Ping covers the "flagger problem," the cooperation (or lack thereof) of factory teams, and cheating in the 125 class in the '80s and '90s.

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Dear Ping,

Great job you are doing at Vital MX! I have to admit that it is also very amusing reading all the comments posted by the various MX fanatics. This time I would really appreciate your opinion on something that has made me constantly scratch my head for years! How can it be possible that in year 2021 there is not yet a solution to this “flagger problem?” It happens constantly that racers do not see the flags.  As a consequence, racers and medical crew are put in danger or injured and in some cases, people lose races or points are deducted.  Isn't there enough pressure from the teams to come up with a valid solution?

Here’s some brainstorming ideas: colorful flashlights instead of flags, led lights integrated in the bar pad, helmet communication. What about some already existing systems like the EYE-TRACK (www.eye-track-sport.com). There must be a way to work out a solution and stop this problem! Thanks for hopefully giving me a chance to let my hair grow again!

Greetings from Germany



The answer would be to hire full-time flaggers, but that doesn’t make sense financially. I’m a big believer in the in-helmet communications, but for this application the warning would have to come from the team of each rider; you couldn’t have the AMA send out a warning about a downed rider or red cross flag because the riders are all on different parts of the track and it would be difficult to clearly explain where the incident is. The best solution is flashing lights on any and every blind jump or rhythm section. These would be easy to see for any rider and watching replay video would give you a clear picture of when the lights went on and if the rider could see them. 

Honestly, I’m more frustrated with the blue flags and riders not getting the hell out of the way when they are being lapped. I’m not picking on Dean here; he was one of many riders that impeded the progress of the leaders in the first three rounds. Some of the problem is the easy, fast tracks they’ve been making; 44 second lap times in a stadium as massive as Houston is a joke. Make the tracks tighter and slow them down. I also think that any rider that gets lapped twice should be black flagged. How many times have we seen a guy just out there rolling around and still blocking a lead rider? You go two laps down, you’re done for the night. I think these guys with the blue flag need to get more aggressive with the flag when the leaders are approaching. Riders will judge how close the leaders are by how frantically the flagger is waving the blue flag at them. If he’s just showing it, the flagger is just letting you know they are coming. If he’s waving it around wildly like a drunken sorority girl waving a size DD bra at Kid Rock concert, it means the leaders are on your ass and you need to get out of the way immediately. Hopefully we see some improvement on that front and some better implementation of the lights down the road.



How much does the KTM/Husky/GasGas conglomerate, being all on the same setup, help at these extended rounds where the dirt literally changes from race 1 to race 3? Seems H1 to H3 we had a big swing in dirt conditions. For someone like ET3, his teammate is on different suspension, and he does not have other riders to share data or clues with. Thanks for your crusade to bring back 125s and common sense!

Mike Jones



I’m sure there are some minor takeaways that are shared between teams, but it’s likely not as big of an advantage as you think. While they all share the same chassis and engine, and all the checks come from the same place, these teams all want to win and it wouldn’t surprise me if they each keep some of their performance tricks a secret. For example, Webb and Barcia had a little run-in during their heat race at the last Houston round, so I doubt those two will be hanging out and going bowling together any time soon. And trust me when I tell you their teams have their rider’s backs 100%. I would guess there is better back-and-forth under the same truck; Coop and Marv likely work together well, the same as Wilson and Osborne. The good news is that all those guys are healthy and still in the title hunt, so we’ll get to watch it play out as it happens. Here’s to some tight racing in Indy!



I have raced since the late seventies and my question is how much cheating went on in the eighties and nineties in the 125 class? If you have ever heard Micky Dymond’s bike at the Colorado national you would know what I’m talking about. 




I know exactly the sound you’re talking about; those factory Hondas in that era were unreal, and the tune coming out of those silencers would give any heterosexual man an erection you could hang a leather jacket from. If you go back and look, those silencers didn’t have much packing in them, which was a big reason they sounded so nasty. While there was certainly cheating going on, and likely still is, it doesn’t really happen at the front of the pack. The top three are pulled into impound after every race and, oftentimes, pulled down to be checked, so anybody who was in contention for podiums or wins had to play by the rules. There may have been other little tricks they used that bent the rules, but there wasn’t much they could get away with. Now, privateers on the other hand, cheated like Tiger Woods on a boy’s trip to Vegas with a pocket full of Percocet. Michael Brandes, Barry Carsten, Brian Deegan and countless other privateer racers bolted on big bores, ran illegal fuel and did everything they could to gain an advantage on the factory riders of the day. I’ll never forget getting passed by “Big Bore” Barry Carsten at a national down the deep start straight at Red Bud one year. I was on a factory bike and he blew past me on a bike that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a month and had a STOCK pipe on it! If you stayed off the podium the chances of getting protested were slim, so why not cheat? Anyway, sometimes factory machines sound like they are cheating when they aren’t… they just sound that good. 


Do you have burning questions that need answering? E-mail Ping at ping@vitalmx.com. Want more? Click the @PING tag below to quickly find all the previous columns.


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