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Carrie Watts Take on the Current Status of the Racing World


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Unionization of the racers.....ugh!

From the Racer’s Wife about a Racer’s Life - A Wakeup Call for the Offroad Industry

By Carrie Watts, wife of Shane Watts

Every time a Racer hits the track, someone that loves them hits their knees in prayer to the track Gods, hoping against hope that their husband, son, brother, or friend comes off the track safe.

We have all been there, waiting in the pits, watching the clock, counting the seconds. When an extra 30 seconds pass from their expected arrival, the anticipation builds; when 1 extra minute goes by, we start to get a little more anxious; when 2 minutes pass, we start to wonder what might have went wrong, hoping that maybe they JUST ran out of gas, had a mechanical, caught some bad lappers, got stuck in a mud hole. No matter how much time passes – even one second, the level of anxiety that those of us in the pits feel every time OUR Racer straps on a helmet, is just waiting to mount. Unless you’ve been there, waiting for a delayed rider to come in, you can’t imagine the deep, sinking panic we feel with every second that passes with OUR Racer coming through.

And when the unimaginable happens, when OUR Racer doesn’t make it off the track safe, the fans, the nay-sayers, the industry big-shots, the ones that sign the racer’s checks - all have nice comforting words for the loved ones that are still waiting for their Racer to come home. And then a little time passes, and it’s on to the next guy, and that’s it.

In light of the most recent tragic loss of off-road racing champion Kurt Caselli, and because it seems, that for fear of losing their ride or sponsor support, no racers will say what needs to be said about the fate of the off-road racing industry and the severe lack of respect for the Racers that make the wheels of off-road racing turn, I’m going to make some really ugly observations and point some fingers.

People, and by “people” I mean every company that makes a buck off these racers, every person that sits on the couch or stands trackside and gets a bit of “ooh” and “ahhh” from these racer’s hard work, talent and time, please take a minute to think about this: these guys are working for you! You are their employer, you are the ones that sign their paychecks and pay for their gas and food, who put clothes on their kid’s backs, and food on their tables. You are responsible for their livelihood.

At the end of every season, when these racers go back to industry companies, when they scramble for sponsorship and literally beg for dollars, they are doing it for you!

This is their job and you “People” employ them! These racers risk their lives EVERY day so companies can sell bikes and tires to you – the average rider and fan, so that Joe Blow can have some trackside entertainment with a beer in his hand, so that opinionated bench racers can tweet and post their high minded insight every day from the safety of their couch, and bash these guys in their blogs and on bike forums.

These guys climb on a dirtbike to do their jobs, but they are clocked in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To remain competitive, many have foregone traditional educations, they train every single day, they have to be smart and business minded to leverage their value with big companies to get a paycheck, they have to shake hands and smile and sign autographs even when they are mentally prepping for a race, they have to be able to market and self promote, they must have absolute support from family and friends, and they have to be able to get thick skin so that every Tom, Dick and Harry that has something shitty to say about them, doesn’t make them throw in the towel.

Not once have I ever heard of a racer getting health insurance, life insurance or disability benfits from their sponsors, their employers. For that matter, half of these guys are struggling to pay for gas to make it to the races, and if you can believe this, MANY of these guys don’t even have health insurance because their paychecks don’t support it.

Think about what you might do if you did your job, and then your “employer” didn’t give you your paycheck? This happens to Racers regularly.

Think about how you might feel if everyone you encountered in your job over the course of a year got to comment on your annual performance review, and all of that information was made public for the general population to then have their say. How might you feel? This happens to Racers regularly.

And then think about this: what if every day at your job someone else was trying to out-perform you and take your job? And, regardless of your job performance and even if you did EVERYTHING that was asked of you by your employer, someone else got awarded your job because they would take less money, and you were left jobless. This happens to Racers regularly.

So, I’m pointing fingers at all of the “People” that are letting these guys risk their lives for nearly nothing, and I’m saying, Do Better! Take care of the Racers that take care of you! Let industry manufactures know that you - the average weekend warrior or rider and the future “racers”, won’t let their biking brothers risk their lives so that they can make an extra buck, or throw all their money at arena sports.

And I’m saying to the Racers out there, DO NOT do your job for nothing! DO NOT give the “People” what they want from you without getting something for yourself and your families in return. Do NOT undercut and sell out your fellow brothers and Racers and take a job from them. You will only be creating a market where the same will happen to you in a year or two. In the past 8 years, that has been the reason for the sponsorship declines. When the market took a dive, industry manufacturers took that opportunity to pay their racers less, and as the industry has tightened up, and as Racers have become desperate to do their jobs and make a living, they have been willing to take next to nothing to do it. As a result the Racers have created a highly competitive, yet desperately undervalued career path for themselves. Many of you have forgone traditional education with the hopes that Professional Racing would sustain you eventually. Reality check for those of you Racers coming up the ranks: this will not happen unless you do something to change the direction of your future!

Racers, you need to talk to one another about what a minimum salary and BENEFITS – Yes, Benefits, should be and create a racer’s union that will not allow companies to take advantage of you, to continue to make money off of you and without giving you what you deserve for risking your lives. Baseball players, basketball players, football players, flight attendants, police officers, fire fighters, all have a unions saying that they will not take less than what they deserve for putting their lives on the line, or for allowing other companies to make money off their talents. Neither should you!

Racers, DO NOT let pride and glory overshadow the fact that racing is your JOB, and sad as it is to say, a VERY short-lived job, at that. Getting a Factory Ride or a $20K/year salary after footing the bill is NOT worth your life, not worth selling out another rider, not worth delaying an education or what might be a real sustaining, life long career. Racers, it’s time to get smart and demand more for yourselves.

When record numbers of riders are showing up to the races, one can assume that the spending in the industry is as healthy as it has every been. Not withstanding that after the fall of so many industry companies after the economic recession, this leaves all the spending in the industry to fewer manufacturers. So, ask yourself, where is the money going? You can be certain that the ugly stepchild of the motorcycling industry - Offroad - is still earning its keep. Simple calculations that gate fees haven't gone down, record numbers of riders attending offroad events, and with that, they must still be spending money to keep their bikes running. Conversely, arenacross events are still limited in capacity by the nature of the event, and the ticket prices and number of events haven't gone up dramatically, so what is the justification that more dollars are being thrown at these racers? Frankly, the draw of the Offroad racing market for a manufacturer is the grassroots, family feel, with direct access to the pros and the bikes in the pits, which is a far site better from a marketing standpoint than a birds eye view from the stands. So, "People", where is the money from Offroad Racinggoing? Racers, are you demanding that the money you are earning for your sponsors come back to the sport and industry that employs you? If not, you should.

Finally, “People”, shame on you for taking advantage of these Racers. Shame on you for sitting in ignorant judgment of these Racer’s jobs, salaries, performance and benefits in the name of them “doing what they love”, because I can assure you that any time you take a passion and make it a job, it becomes a just that - a job. Shame on you for sitting safely in your office or on your couch, trying to take away these Racer’s accomplishments, and judging them when they have something un-P.C. to say about their treatment by their “employers”. Remember, these Racers have no one but themselves and their loved ones defending them against the world’s greed, need for violent entertainment, and judgment - and ask yourself, would you do a Racer’s job?

The most recent tragedy and senseless loss of racing legend Kurt Caselli leaves me with that last desperate hope that this is the final wakeup call fans, enthusiasts, riders, industry manufactures, and RACERS need to change the fate and inevitable decline of Offroad Racing. No matter how many posts are made asking event promoters and sponsors to do better by their racers, nothing will change unless “people” do better, and Racers join together and demand more!

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So the rich bastards running companies don't really care about the little guy.  Thank goodness this only happens in the racing world and not in every damn aspect of our society. 

 

I guess when we "people" are all done shaming ourselves for taking part in the horrors forced upon these poor unwilling racers, we should thank god for our mediocre existence.  Praise the lord that most of us are blessed enough have jobs riding a stained but safe office chair in some cubicle farm, busting our backs in the heat, or kissing the ass of some dickhead customer, where the highlight of the week is the escape from an otherwise miserable existence watching the races, or if lucky, spending a few hours riding our dirt bikes.  Thank god that our caring and generous employers would never replace us with someone (or thing) that will do the job cheaper.  We should also appreciate having jobs that no one gives two shits about . . . it's nice to not be bothered by people wanting to buy you a drink or have kids admire you . . . that's got to really suck. 

 

Boo-f'n-hoo . . . STFU and if you don't like your hubby's job, benefits, salary, etc maybe you should nag him into getting a new one, like the rest of us poor bastards. 

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While some of Ms. Watts choice of words could be considered disrespectful, really the only way to bring attention to such a cause is to use inflammatory language. I agree with her on one point, a better safety net for racers is needed.

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On second thought, sometimes inflammatory language distracts people from the key message.

 

Personally, if a foundation was created whereby promoters and manufactures donated a portion of sales proceeds to a foundation with the express purpose of subsidizing racer medical insurance, disability insurance and life insurance, I would definitely be inclined buy products from them over manufactures that don't provide support to a racer safety net. This type of industry support is common in other activities and often becomes a marketing tool.

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If a guy devotes his entire life to riding motorcycles everyday and hasn't given any attention to other parts of his life, the consumer is suposed to foot he bill for the ex racers next desire when racing is done? I always figured riding everyday would have been payment enough.

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I'm still in shock....  Not even sure what to say, but Shane should have been all over this before his wife dumped it on the internet.  Or....if he's backing her play, well..... <sigh>

 

It's a dog eat dog world.  If you're going to "work" (ride) in a "glamour" (racing for a living) profession, you'd better be the best in the world so you can charge for it, or do it solely for the love of it.  The middle ground in almost all industries is shrinking faster than Georges junk when he climbs out of the cold water....  And mid-level paid jobs are disappearing faster than the dinosaur of old...

 

I work in a "glamour" profession as well, and I can say that I could easily fill in "the blanks" of her diatribe with situations and facts from my industry, but it would all be futile.  It is what it is.  There is no changing things right now.  A union for riders???  🤣 🤣   I think Shane should hang it up and get a real day job so he can make his wife happy.  It's obvious she is very upset and bitter....

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Kenny, where did you find this rant??

 

she's been on this kick for a few years now.....and I suppose given where the sport is headed, it's inevitable.  Sometimes it takes a belligerent bitch to rattle the cage of the establishment, and since we've long passed the day of the 'local' rider maybe it's time has come. I just don't see anymore Bob Hannah's coming from nowhere without a lifetime of training, taking over the sport.

 

That said, it doesn't seem right that Shane's wife is the one carrying the banner.  Shane is a great guy, but he'll prolly be the first to tell ya that he didn't spend much of his career setting himself up for retirement.  I hope he stays healthy, and continues to give back, becuz folks will always take care of someone with as much to give as Shane.  What else can anybody expect from life? :excuseme:

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