"Fast Bikes", April 1, 2013

Pit Shadow

Hi everyone, how are we this month? I want to start by asking you all for a favour – can I have some money please? I’m serious, as I have some hefty bills to pay, and you need only contribute a pound, or a Euro to make sure I have electricity and food. That’s not so much to ask, is it?

Now bear with me on this strange introduction as I’m actually relating to an email I received the other day from Moto2 racer Gino Rea. Well, not an email just to me, but it seems to the entire world. It’s very sad that he’s lost his ride, he is no doubt a talent, even if there have been some question marks in some of the paddocks he has raced in about some of the people that surround him.

Most importantly to us, he’s British, so of course he gets our support on the race track. But I’ve long been unimpressed with those who turn to their fans to help them keep racing. For some, I suppose, it’s the greatest thing ever, helping your favourite racer keep going. But in reality, they’re few and far between. Furthermore, asking fans for cash just exacerbates the issues surrounding sponsorship, and ‘paid’ rides. Racing is in a real state, with at least three-quarters of world and national racers paying for their own rides. Even in British supersport, a good ride will cost you around £60,000. Now, you may say that’s not a bad price, as someone has to pay for everything, but reliance on racers footing the bill can’t last long. Their only port of call, if they fail to find a sponsor, is to ask the fans.

Do you remember the Cal Crutchlow debacle last year, asking fans for £60k to buy him a set of brakes? So far as we know, somebody did. Fans already pay huge amounts for tickets, TV packages, T-shirts and merchandise, and so on, to fund their own racing passions. Asking for more is tough when they have bills to pay. Oh, racers have bills to pay too of course, but they’re also in a far better position to earn themselves money through hard work given their status. Thinking that if every single fan gave you a quid will sort your season out, is deluded at best. That’s the same kind of reasoning a beggar wakes up with every morning from his cardboard box! And what if the target isn’t reached? What happens to the money sent by well-wishers?

Does it get sent back? Not bloody likely! However, I ‘get’ the reasoning behind asking fans, even If I don’t like it. As stated, the issue is indicative that something big needs to change in the sport. Perhaps if everyone worked together to find backing, rather than snatching other’s sponsors and begging from the same ones, we could see progress. Rather sadly though, I very much doubt it...