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Sep 1, 2010

FIRST PERSON/OPINION: A Simple Question For People Who Say Kids Aren't Capable Of Racing Motorcycles


By John Ulrich

There were two USGPRU races held on the motorcycle road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

There were 24 entrants in the two USGPRU races, all kids riding 250cc racebikes.

On Saturday, all 24 kids started the USGPRU race. Of those, 22 finished the race while two retired with mechanical problems and one crashed but rejoined the race.

If kids are not capable of controlling racing motorcycles, and if the Indy track is too dangerous for kids, how did that happen?

Over the last few days, the general interest media has been full of various talking heads proclaiming outrage at the very idea that kids are allowed to race motorcycles. Kids can't possibly control racing motorcycles, the talking heads declare, and kids cannot possibly exercise the judgment needed to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway--which is obviously too difficult a track for kids. The way they see it from behind a news desk, Peter Lenz's death on Sunday proves it.

In fact, what happened to Peter Lenz after he crashed in a corner on the warm-up lap for Sunday's USGPRU race had nothing to do with his age, the speed of the motorcycle he was riding or the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It had to do with a tragic set of thankfully rare circumstances that could have produced the same outcome even if it had involved 35-year-old seasoned professionals. (More on that in another post to follow.)

Consider this: The two USGPRU races held at Indy last weekend ran for a total of 23 laps on the 2.6-mile road course, plus three warm-up laps, for a total of 26 laps or 67.6 miles. Including Peter, three of the 24 kids crashed during those 67.6 miles. The percentage of crashers in those 67.6 miles equaled 12.5%.

The Moto2 race held at Indy last weekend was scheduled to run for 26 laps but was red-flagged after eight adult, professional riders crashed on the opening lap. The race was then shortened to 17 laps (to suit time constraints) and restarted. So the adults in the Moto2 class raced for 17 laps on the 2.6-mile road course, plus two warm-up laps, for a total of 19 laps or 49.4 miles.

There were 38 starters in the Moto2 race, all adults, all professional racers. Of those adults, 13 crashed out of the restarted, 17-lap race. The percentage of crashers in the restarted race alone equaled 34.2%.

If kids cannot possibly control racing motorcycles and if IMS is too dangerous a circuit for kids to race on, how can it be that the 24 USGPRU kids did a better job of staying on two wheels over a longer racing distance than the 38 adult professionals entered in Moto2?

How is it possible?

More to follow.
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