Friday, March 18, 2011

Writers/Riders

Admittedly, I’ve fallen out of the electric motorcycle fold over the past several months.  Well, I follow what’s going on, but I haven’t made time for the quality interaction that the amazing e-moto community deserves.  Multiple projects, a bill-paying aerospace job (yes, bad guys still feel the wrath of death from above even in a recession), and the ridiculous quantity of personal interests and hobbies that consume my attention deficit disordered gray matter.  Oh, and the fact that I will become a father for the first time (probably this weekend) pours another gooey layer of sticky chaos on top of my stack of mental pancakes.

There are several things I’ve been wanting to write about (non e-racing related), so I’m going to put what I have started to write about or posted in comments on other sites in the last couple of weeks together in this single post.  Hopefully it all works.

On the Ducati/DiSalvo Daytona Victory:
A conspiracy theorist might consider the timing of the tire safety-related red flag and JD40’s 848 meltdown a strange coincidence.  As much as I dislike the DMG-AMA bureaucracy, I won’t chew that gum.

I’ve been a loyal Ducati rider/fan/worshipper for over 20 years, but I can’t feel good about this win.  To overcome radical weather changes and win a split, 147 mile race is a testament to JD40’s racecraft and his crew’s technical skills, but it cannot to be attributed to a machine which actually won two sprint races with two different engines.  The 200 is supposed to be where OEM’s prove that their production-based bikes (and top racers) have the stuff to go the distance at racing speed.  For me, the racing did not disappoint, but the race execution and the results did.

On the Sustainability of the Daytona 200
I do believe that the AMA wants to wants to do a good job, just like anyone who loves what they do.  At least I want to believe that they love what they do.

The root of the Daytona conundrum is the venue itself.  The time for a 200 mile race which incorporates NASCAR high banking and concrete walls has come and gone.  The AMA cannot blame Dunlop for tire issues. They must hold themselves accountable for continuing to hold an endurance race on a track which is not safe for distance racing on sticky street tires.  Let’s face it.  Daytona does not hold the international prestige it did just a decade ago.  The AMA killed that when they decided not to work with the FIM on creating a date for the race which would allow WSBK riders to participate.  Continue sprint races at Daytona if you must, but it’s time for a premier 200 mile race at a safer track which doesn’t place ridiculous demands on DOT tires.  Hell, a different track might even allow them to race actual Superbikes on true race tires for 200 miles.

Utah 200?
My two cents: Create the Utah 200 and hold it at Miller the same weekend or within a week of the WSBK event, and open up the rules to include FIM spec Superbikes (and fuel, tires, etc.) for that race only.  Award AMA series points to AMA racers based on their respective finishing order, but acknowledge the podium no matter what series they normally run. And make it worth while for the WSBK guys to race.  Prestige and safety in one package.

On Mark Gardiner
 Yeah, I don’t post very often. Has it really been since last August? Oy. So here is a post for the two people (BrammoFan and Plugbike) who actually ever read the electronic smegma that I attempt to clutter the internet with.

On the right side of this blog is a list of feeds that I think are the best (or at least most interesting to me) of motocycle news and moto-journalism on the web (saying that, I realize that I need to get Hell For Leather and Visor Down on the list). Some of these tend to focus on the electric racing scene which I wholeheartedly love and believe in, but most focus on the experience, technology, and soul of motorcycling.

Anyone who has ever read this blog (both of you) knows that I am all about giving credit where credit is due, and I do my best to promote blogging and journalism which I think is particularly outstanding. If you have ever read Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do?, or Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions (which officially just came out last week, but I’ve read the pre-release version), you will understand where I am coming from.

In that vein, I implore anyone who happens upon this post to read and support Mark Gardiner’s (@Backmarker on Twitter) Bikewriter.com blog. Unlike me, Mark is a true journalist/novelist/adventurer with the enviable ability to craft his words into an experience. One that draws you into a story and makes you want more. Much more.

I feel a bit guilty reading and enjoying his writing without making my best attempt to call attention to his work.  That it's free for anyone to read is boarderline criminal.

Mark created Bikewriter.com after the untimely demise of RoadRacerX.com and RoadRacerX magazine. The quantity and quality of his work since the beginning of the year has been amazing. Anything I write here about Mark or his writing will not do him or his work any justice whatsoever. Check out his work, including Riding Man if you can find a copy somewhere (now on Kindle according to his blog).

Congratulations to Mark on landing a gig with Motorcycle-USA.com and his Megaphone section in Motorcyclist magazine as well.  More Mark is a good thing.

That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I’ll write something again soon. Maybe.



Friday, August 13, 2010

When Worlds Collide

What is it really
That's going on here
You've got your system for total control
So is there really anybody out there
Now watch us suffer cause we can't go
What is it really that is in your head
What little life that you had just died
I'm gonna be the one that's takin over
Now this is what it's like when worlds collide
- Powerman 5000, “When Worlds Collide”


Last week Hell for Leather Magazine published a great piece by Ivar Kvadsheim on why we need a single eMoto road racing series. EnvironMoto is in total agreement on the subject. So I wrote a response in the comments which more or less details my concerns for the future if the current situation continues, and what should happen in order for TTXGP and the FIM to devise a contiguous electric motorcycle roadracing series.

The FIM may not be pure evil as I have made them out to be in the past, but they sure do love money. I do believe that the FIM intends to keep the e-Power series alive so that they may entice the major motorcycle manufacturers (the guys with lots of money) with a politically positive option. “Look Yamaha, we have a prĂȘt-a-porter racing series that will highlight how green (blue for you Europeans) your product line is.”

Anyway, I am posting the response as it reads in the HFL comment area. I figure that I might as well post it here and invite agreement, indifference, or flaming criticism. Here it is:

I’m trying to think a decade into the future while composing my thoughts on the state of electric road racing and its two competing series. Here’s my two cents:

FIM
The FIM has the power to make things happen. Not only that, but when they have proper motivation (i.e. money) they really know how to make things happen (like Honda-sourced spec engines for Moto2). In the FIM e-Power series’ current state, I have to believe that they aren’t going to truly push down the electric racing path without either massive outside backing or significant fan/consumer interest (or if Valentino Rossi suddenly decides he will race an electric bike next year).

That being said, I have to believe that the big established motorcycle manufacturers are lurking in the background, waiting for the technology to advance and consumer demand to show up on their radar before they jump in. WHEN the big Japanese or European IC bike manufacturers start building serious electric motorcycles and want to race them, the FIM is going to do everything they can to cater to them.

I am sure that today the FIM is glad to have the cottage industry builders participating in e-Power (even the stupid scooters), but the way the FIM works, those little guys will be cast aside like yesterdays news as soon as companies like Honda and Yamaha decide they want to race electric motorcycles. I am sure that is what the FIM are waiting/hoping for. I think that the small manufacturers currently in the e-Power series should read the writing on the wall. If they are relying on the FIM to give them special preference ten years from now, they are delusional. Unless by chance one of the builders currently racing in e-Power strikes it big and becomes a major manufacturer, they are going to be SOL (shit outta luck) in a few years.

TTXGP
For the most part, I believe in the TTXGP organizational concept (Trust.eGrandprix.org, TEO). Beyond just the crowd sourced technical rules (the eGrandprix rules wiki), I believe in the philosophy that benefits the manufacturers who participate in the races. The greater a builder’s involvement is, the more ownership they take. Theoretically; a manufacturer who commits to the series and begins racing this season could always potentially own a greater stake in the organization than even Honda would, even if Honda decided to enter next year. The concept could help keep the little guys relevant and not kicked to the curb once bigger players emerge.

I am pretty amazed that more of the independent manufacturers have not embraced this idea at least partially. Maybe next year will be a different story. No one currently involved in electric racing has the shear financial power of a company like Honda. The TTXGP format allows anyone from a garage builder on up to MotoCzysz to come in and have influence on the direction of the sport, and have a vested interest in its success.

The biggest concern with the current TTXGP organization is Azhar’s dual role as organizer and manufacturer. We know that some other manufacturers have a problem with this as well. Personally, I see that being a major limiting factor in the growth of TTXGP. To grow TTXGP (or partner with the FIM), Azhar is going to have to seriously consider where he wants to position himself in the organization. Despite the TEO concept of reduced ownership of the original investors over time (I assume that includes Azhar), the perception of a conflict of interest will remain.

Meld
In a nutshell, I agree with Ivar. Competition and technology will suffer without a unified sanctioning entity. The creation of a successful solitary series is a must, in order to advance the sport and the technology which trickles down from it. There must be a melding of the FIM’s established credibility and ability to coordinate big time venues, sponsors, and exposure with TTXGP’s innovation and enthusiasm. The FIM have to be willing to loosen their grip on their old-school organizational model and help TTXGP refine the TEO concept and rules for classes (yes that is plural). Azhar would (and I think should) have to completely separate himself from Mavizen and continue to be the face (and father) of electric motorcycle racing. I think the organization side needs Azhar far more than the manufacturing side, and I also believe the long term rewards for him will be far greater.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TTXGP NA Round 3: The Start

video

Barnes smoking the field through turn 1 at Mosport from the start.  More later.