Expletive Deleted: Cruel Winter
Friday, January 23, 2009
Originally published Friday, January 23, 2009
Without a doubt, winter is the cruelest season of them all. And this winter has seen more than its share of nastiness, with two painful incidents on record in the span of a week.

The first was the sudden end to the Red Bull Rookie Cup here in the US. In a press release, Red Bull said that they were unable to continue the US Red Bull Rookie Cup program after a reduction in support from one of their partners.

In my book, there are simply things that can't be done, no matter what the circumstances may be, and one of those is that you don't hold tryouts for a racing series for kids, have said kids try their damnedest to make the cut, make a selection, and then after the kids were told that they are going racing, abruptly kill the series.

I can't imagine the level of disappointment that the Red Bull Rookies experienced when told that their dream of racing in a big-time racing series is, suddenly, not happening. Put yourself in the place of these teens for a few minutes: told that their dreams were coming true, only to have them dashed before they put in one lap.
In short, when it comes to kids and racing, you keep your promises. No matter what.
Why? How? Nearly all fingers are pointing at Red Bull's technical partner KTM as the reason that the series was iced. They say that KTM was suddenly unable to hold up their end of the deal, which would have seen the Red Bull Rookie Cup series run for a second season in the US. Yes, we are in an economic recession in the US and times are certainly challenging. But to me, when companies like Red Bull and KTM make a commitment to a group of teenagers, it is kept, literally no matter what. Cut the number of rounds in the series, use last year's machinery, do what you can to contain costs but keep your company's commitment to these kids.

If it is accurate that KTM backed out of an existing agreement and that set forth the path that saw the series be vanquished, then I am seriously becoming of the opinion that KTM is a company run by buffoons. Who can forget their season-long saga with Team Roberts in 2005? And, now this?

KTM seemingly wants desperately to be known as a respected company in the motorcycle industry but they are becoming more infamous as a company that is incapable of keeping their commitments. When a new company is pushing hard in the big streetbike sales class they want buyers to know they have a rock solid commitment to their customers and are going to be there next week, next month and next year.

The cold-hearted graybeards in the cheap reading seats are now dismissing all of this and saying that this soul-crushing incident will be good for those poor ex-Red Bull Rookie kids. This will show them that life is rife with disappointment and nothing is ever certain. Possibly this is quite true. But it has also shown these kids that it's okay to say one thing and do another, that big multi-national companies don't keep their commitments (and hey why should you, right?).

In short, when it comes to kids and racing, you keep your promises. No matter what.

I remain hopeful that Red Bull will find a way to bring the Rookie Cup series back this season, perhaps with another manufacturer partner.

Nasty Number Two:

This week's press release by Kawasaki, stating their intentions for the 2009 season, probably means that Jamie Hacking will not be racing in the Superbike class this season, and may not be racing at all in 2009.

The cruel irony here is that Hacking was clearly the fastest rider that did not win a race in Superbike last season. He put the Kawasaki Superbike on the podium eight times and made one wonder how many races he would have outright won if he'd been on a Suzuki. Three? Six? Ten?

He finished fifth in the championship and rode his heart out at the Laguna Seca USGP where he stood in for the injured John Hopkins. Kawasaki MotoGP were so enamored with him, there was talk that they wanted him to test the bike later in the season and perhaps race as a Wild Card.

Did anyone actually ride harder, try harder than Jamie Hacking did last season in Superbike? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, Hacking deserves better than to be sitting on the couch and wondering what his future will be.

Two cruel episodes and still months of winter to go.

Let's hope that these things don't happen in threes.
— ends —
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