There are places that you always want to go back to. And there are places that I would just assume I never see, feel, or smell again. My screen saver on my laptop is a picture I took in Maui. If you have ever been to Lahaina you know the place. Just north of Cheeseburger in paradise along the sea wall, across from all the tourist shops. Looking out into the ocean, there is a sailboat that is submerged several hundred feet from the sea wall. It has been there everytime I have gone to Lahaina. And everytime, I go I take a picture of that view. It is someplace I love; I love the smell, the feel, everything about that one place on earth. And I always know that somehow, someway I will return there to that exact spot.
I used to feel that way about the first turn at Carlsbad. On race day there was a smell to the dirt at Carlsbad that I have never experienced anywhere else. Thinking of that first turn still brings back so many memories. In 86, I won 28 straight motos there. Between 88 and 98 I watched 10 Commotion by the Oceans from there. I stood there every Saturday for eleven and a half years controlling practice. I watched Marty Moates and his historic race and I watched Gerrit Wolsink dominate the USGP for what seemed like an eternity. In the end due to politics, management, and a clash of personalities I could not wait to get out of there. Now I have no urge to walk or relive what is left of the place like some still do.
If I was to never see an operating room ceiling again in my life I would be a happy man. There is a smell, a feel, a view to that. Having done that 15 or 16 times now I can attest with great conviction that it is not something I will be taking pictures of, and remembering with fondness. I have a difficult time watching Greys Anatomy and any show about the medical profession. In fact I would give anything to never hear the words “now just count backward from a hundred”.
The starting gate at Mammoth. On the REM computer is a photo a friend took of me on the starting gate at Mammoth. I am all alone, just over the gate, kicking my Yamaha. Everyone else is long gone. Mammoth is one of the truly unique moto places on earth. Like Maui it is also one of my favorite places on earth. It never mattered how I did. Just to be there in that beautiful place is a privilege. To hang out with old friends, get up at 3am to get in line, to argue with the parking lot guys over where you can pit, watch the same guys chase away the bears later in the day, and to race in a forest is something I would do for the rest of my life. I like that picture for a variety of reasons. It reminds me that no matter how much money, preparation, practice, and work you put into a race it all comes down to a little bit of luck. If you are determined, have done your homework, and are prepared you can still as they say make lemonade out of lemons. While I started last I still passed a bunch of guys, and had a ton of fun. At this point in my life it is way more important to have fun than it is to win.