Professional racing is getting tougher worldwide. MotoGP is going to remain strong, but all the other series are struggling, especially in smaller markets like Australia. They might look quite shiny to the average spectator, but there’s not a lot of money. I’ll be doing work on a part-time basis with the Australian national federation—roadracing, motocross, enduro. I’m going to have a look at the number of events, see how they’re doing things from a technical side, and offer some advice. When I first came over here, America had a number of big names and factories involved. We’ve lost a lot of that over the years. Now we’re down to a smaller group of people. Guys I’ve recently worked with are relatively inexperienced. Roger Hayden has never done a Daytona 200, and he’s not a spring chicken. At 32 years old, Martin Cardenas has really only had one year on a SuperBike. Blake Young had a couple years in SuperBike; he was a victim of the economic climate. I liked the days when we had teenagers heading to Europe who were capable of winning Grands Prix. Mat Mladin was on a semi-works Superbike as a teenager with me at Kawasaki, so he grew up learning about a motorcycle. A lot of it went into the locker. We could turn up at a racetrack and sometimes you wouldn’t have to ask him a question. He’d come in and say, “Let’s change the offset from 28 to 26, and do this, this, and this over here.” There aren’t many guys in the US who can do that anymore. They’re used to riding production bikes. Wherever motorcycle racing has been successful, it has relied on the manufacturers. If you can think of a series that hasn’t, I’d like to know about it. I think there’s a lesson there. The closer you go to standard, the more likely you are to get brand domination. Is that enough to keep everybody interested? Or you open up the rules so everybody can do just enough to be competitive. Which way do you go? It’s a tough call.
I understand what the AMA has done in some areas, but in other areas, I’m gob smacked. When you start cutting deals with people, then everybody wants a deal. How do you quantify what you’re giving them? Now everybody’s on controlled products. They’re all labeled and stickered. There are no fuel sponsorships. There are no tire sponsorships. Everybody buys everything. We’ve eliminated the competition. When you’ve got a huge country like the US, and Australia is in the same boat, and you’re putting all these controlled products in place, how do you expect regional guys to race your series? So many people who haven’t been to England say, “What about BSB?” They can get to every racetrack within a half-day to a day’s drive. No airfares. Hotels are reduced. The cost of doing business is much cheaper than here. I think there’s room for a Grand Prix-style class. It doesn’t have to be the same as what’s in Europe but along the lines of Moto3. The real lap time is in the chassis. Tires are so much better nowadays it’s not funny. We used to come to Daytona and the riders would be quivering. There are far better tires out there than we’re currently using, but, in my opinion, you shouldn’t be pushing the envelope on a control tire. You can be a little conservative while still developing. We need the best riders and best teams in one class. That’s what we have to focus on. I want to see this team get its footprint back. We’re used to running 3 riders, 2 trucks, 3 parts guys. Rather than sit there and go, “We’ve got no money,” we said, “How can we make it work with the money we’ve got?” We manipulated and moved and juggled what we had. One of the keys to racing is to be in control of your own destiny. If you have to rely on other people, you’re not in control. I’ve been going to the racetrack since I was 6 months old, and I’m still here. I don’t know what else to do.