The Loss of Luis Salom, and the failures of the Sport

Luis Salom has passed and we offer our sympathies.  I am afraid that his death is the result of handshakes, and back scratching between powerful people in Spain. Specifically, the operators of the track and Dorna and the FIM.  Drama sells tickets, drama means more fans watch, so when riders are wild, like Simoncelli was, Dorna ignores it.  When Rossi kicks another rider or runs them off the track, Dorna ignores it.  When a corner is not safe but makes race pace faster, Dorna ignores it.  Am I wrong?  When will the professionals discuss it?  If Dorna and race direction had taken time to discipline Marco maybe he would not have pushed it so hard the day he died… yet any single word that suggests it was anything more than a simple accident is bashed as out of place and inappropriate.  Just look at the press conferences leading up to the day he passed away..  the warnings were everywhere.

Let’s face it, MotoGP is not a super popular sport here in the US.  America is ruled by Am-football, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf and MMA.  There is NASCAR and Motocross which rule the motorsports world in the US.  There are so many distractions to take people away from motorcycle racing.  Besides motorcyclists are marginal part of society the world of Harley Davidson outlaw types overshadow the sport riders in American film and media.  Sport riders are a very misunderstood segment of the US population.  of the hundreds of thousands of people who ride sport, most do not watch or follow the racing series.  In part because most WSBK and MotoGP events are in the EU or Asia and fans here cannot watch because they are broadcast in the wee hours of the morning. Interest is low because practice and qualifications are not broadcast, back-stories, personal interviews, riders history and series dynamics are not discussed, and races are squeezed into an hour block that is cut with commercials. There is no mystery why the sport continues to flounder in the States.

Now, having said that, the fans that are here are dedicated.

Let me tell you a little bit about my home.  In my household we plan ahead, we pay premium fee’s to watch the events and travel when possible to watch the US races.  We have jobs and children and grandchildren, we have bills, and taxes and our share of health problems.  We are busy people, with busy lives and motorcycles are a hobby.  I have been riding for more than 40 years and now the wife and I tell our children to teach our grandchildren to ride young. Of course, hoping that maybe our family might have the next MotoGP or WSBK Champion.  Simply put we are a regular people who love motorcycles.  Are we setting up our grandchildren to be the next Luis Salom? We accept the risks of riding every time we get on the freeway, and thousands more die every months in road accidents, racing should be the last place a rider dies.

We woke on Friday morning to the news that Luis Salom had passed away while in FP2 just around turn 12.  Our first reaction is anger, anger that the track is not safe.  We looked and saw that the section that he crashed on was missing the sand or gravel that is mandated by the governing board.  We wonder why, why, why? Why did this have to happen, why did the Ambulance drive away so slowly? Why didn’t the Helicopter take him to the hospital? Why doesn’t Dorna and the FIM take responsibility for the safety of the riders and the condition of the track?  Why do the changes have to happen after someone dies? Why, why, why? We see that FP3 happens on a revised track configuration, and we just want to scream!!! Why change now?  It makes it worse that it seems that everyone in the sport knew that the turn was not safe and ignored it simply because they wanted the race to be more entertaining… I’m sorry but that is just horrid.  Let us never forget that Dorna’s first concern is not the riders safety but income generation and profit.

Our anger is followed by sadness, and even tears.  Not because we knew Luis, we did not.  But because we are empathetic and understanding people.  We can understand the pain that the family and friends feel, we have lost loved ones and we know how hard it can be.  Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Luis.

So, who’s ass gets chewed out for this?  Who’s head is going to roll? I’m sure no one’s.   Because the people in powerful positions, executive positions are the ones responsible.   I will, therefore, refresh what it is that the corporation is doing wrong.

Do not have double standards for unsafe riding, when a rider bumps another, when a rider runs another wide to gain advantage, when a rider takes a unsafe line punish them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the biggest name in the sport, the rider with the most fans or a moto3 rider with only 10 fans, penalize them equally. Lives might be saved but lessons will be learned and the sport will be better for it.

Set track safety rules and then make promoters and track organizations follow them, no matter who they are, what their relationship connection are, or how much money they throw at the process.  Besides how much would it have cost to get a couple of jack hammers and knock out the concrete at turn 12, a back hoe to dig it out, put in some small gravel and then move the fence back about 10 feet? 15K? 25K? That’s all it would have taken to save Luis Salom’s life, but the friends of friends were too cheap to do it.  Why would they? They still got the contract to host the races… ridiculous!

Allow broadcasters the leeway to discuss difficult subjects, and make comments that might show the weakness’s of Dorna and FIM,  Don’t issue censor reports give the corporate line, and do not penalize broadcasters that do criticize.  The business does not need to be protected, and without honest conversation and critique their cannot be growth.

It’s always a shame when a rider dies.  Let Luis’s death lead the constructive change.


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