The Dirty Golden Ruler
Five in the morning, a long line of half-million dollar motor-homes, smaller trucks and trailers, worn out pick-up and import trucks all gather at the small gate. Varying walks of life and social standings are represented, vehicles all filled with hopeful parents and excited children. Parents and Grandparents wanting to fulfill their children’s dream (many who live vicariously through their children’s success). Others with early success in business or inherited fortune allows them to live this more privileged lifestyle. Some families strain household incomes and push credit limits, families living on the road arrive from every corner of the country, some from the town fifteen miles down the road. They have all arrive with one shared dream.
The Goal – To headline large venues filled with screaming fans that have paid top dollar to witness a spectacle unequalled in any form of entertainment, to gain world wide notoriety, earn seven figure yearly contracts and attract unattainable girls. Each youngster and father knows - they will be the next big star.
Ambitions are fueled in the early years, a boy is informed as to what is “cool”, by what advertisers sell to make him “in”, what his peers accept as “having made it” and what success is by corporate standards. There is a young boy who may not able to compete in traditional sports because of his physical stature, who is too small for sports that are based on larger, taller and stronger kids. There are those hoping success here will be the ticket out of a menial existence, for others, its believing that success can be gained with raw talent not requiring training or proper education.
The motor-homes pull in the motocross park, set up camp and unload the motorcycles; fresh plastic body work and decals decorate the new dirt bikes (to have anything less than the newest and latest would only garner negative attention from this trendy group). These amateur racers have three or four bikes, one for each class of competition entered with a practice bike. Each bike sports the latest in billet aluminum racing parts, equipped with the newest suspension and highest horsepower engines available for purchase. Bikes are maintained by a paid technician, who also drives the truck/shop/home/school/headquarters (this weekend he sleeps in the trailer, the family uses the motor-home).
Arriving from deeper within the local scene there is an older Ford pickup truck that overheats when idling and needs new tires, in the bed one fairly new dirt bike and Granddad’s rusty tool box. Dad does all the work with an adjustable one size fits all wrench that takes the place of a set of high quality chrome wrenches. This bike doesn’t share the same quality parts as the others or have the arsenal of parts, or a dozen sets of new tires. What it has: the best that what money they do have can buy.
Parents and children dressed in hand-me-down clothes (who appear to be long over-due for a dental visit), having to choose between decent full course meals or a new air filter and clutch for the race bike or Raman Noodles, making the choice is simple-the race bike must be ready- a small sacrifice worth forfeiting that week’s nutrition, because like the more affluent competitors attending; they know that they will be next year’s Supercross champion.
The amateur racing schedule is centered around a nine or ten month season, requiring the youngsters to be away from home and school. These young heroes are between eight and sixteen years – the prime learning years. In some families mom may serve as a teacher with home schooling. Wealthy families might have a tutor that will travel with them. Local racers who do not follow the nation wide circuit attend their local public schools.
Riding and racing is their lives, riding as much when ever possible whether it’s the privileged at a rented race track with mechanics and ambulance at hand, or the less well off competitor who rides after, before and sometimes during school hours.
Wealthier kids having been raised in this environment take becoming a star for granted, this is their life: the less fortunate only dream of having this life.
Being one of the less fortunate soon-to-be superstars, you live in a smaller house (the ugliest on the block), long overdue for landscaping and paint, and oil stained driveway, Mom and Dad both work to support the family. You religiously follow all of the Supercross and Motocross races; your room is covered in posters, you read magazines, wear your favorite racers t-shirt, you know results from all the races, their best lap times, knowing when you get your chance you can prove you are better than any of those who came before you.
Mom and Dad believe too, they want to support your dreams of being a star (this could be their way of getting you the life that they aren’t able to get you for themselves). They know all these dreams are going to come at a cost, they budget, live within their means and do the best they can to help to make it happen. Goals have been set for you, for their support you have to show that you want it, good grades are a must (less than a C means you don’t go to the qualifying race for the finals), you need to practice, work-out, maintain your bike and somehow help with the expensive maintenance costs.
Dad has to work up until its time to leave, you don’t arrive at the track until its time for the gates to open. Waiting motor-homes crowd the entrance and you will not set up your pit area until later that morning. As you drive in past the entourage of motor-homes and race rigs their pits are being set up by the paid help, Dad mumbles under his breath “Over-privileged, under-educated bastards” Mom nudges him and tells him “Keep your opinion to yourself”. Giggling to yourself knowing its true, secretively wishing you were one of them.
Unlike the others staying in the air-conditioned and heated motel room on wheels, you pitch your four person tent next to the pickup, the ground is muddy, but not as bad as a couple years ago at Tennessee in the middle of August. You get ready and practice during the day, then qualify respectably for your races on Sunday; race-day.
As night falls racing stops, barbeques are fired up, the scent of BBQ sauce fills the park, some red-neck from Southern Ga. brings a half gallon of White Lightning, many families join together to enjoy each others company, there is little being said about the upcoming event (you have no friends on race day). Night goes by, as White Lightning flows inhabitations fade, the park gets noisier, pit bikes are driven faster, stories get grander and “My kid can beat your kid” echoes amongst the multitude of campers.
You don’t sleep well; the noise and apprehension doesn't allow you to easily doze off. Your crowded tent does little to muffle the roar of the midnight drunks and speeding dirt bikes. None the less you are confident about the morning’s outcome, how you will be noticed by the big factories that carry their stars to notoriety. Your efforts to sleep are useless until Three a.m. when the noise finally subsides.
Finally making it to the first race you line up with the rest - Dad is there be your mechanic, Mom on the side keeping track of your positions. On the green flag you go, motors scream, dirt is thrown from the knobby tires you ride your best. After a couple of laps you feel tired, but good. Your position is not bad, you stand a chance of finishing in the top few. In front, a couple of the over-privileged are vying for a spot on the track. Their battle results in both racers falling down, leaving you with a chance to gain more spots, although your bike is older and not as fast-your training and effort is now starting to pay off. With the finish line in sight you pray that nothing happens, the bike runs, nobody crashes in front of you - hitting the ground is not your fate. The finish line is ahead, and now behind, the finish is good enough to be on the podium (One, Two and Three), the best finish you have that day. But consolation is found when your finishes are more consistent than the better funded teams.
Following as many races around your area as you need, you earn points towards the final race where all is too be gained or lost. You do well there, on average better than the others. Now the factories start making choices, your hopes are high, your point total prove you have the talent.
At the end of the year it is not to be for you, the other more-photogenic, better-marketed, less talented and under-educated have won out for the honor to be in the “Truck”.
Is rejection because you lack talent? Lack effort? No.
All of your efforts have been side lined from back room meetings and greased palms. Your father’s wallet doesn’t have the mass of currency the other guys have, your mothers breasts have not been augmented (or used to gain attention), you haven’t schmoozed the factories with meaningless gadgets, gifts, bouquets of roses, dinners and 4th of July weekends at your beach front home.
You can not make deals that compensate those who make the choices.
Other than your talent and ability you have nothing else to offer, once again the golden rule is proven to be true. “He who has the gold-rules”.
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