Join 3,519 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Deaths in MotoGP
September 10, 2010 7:29 AM   Subscribe

There hasn't been a death in the premiere class of Grand Prix motorcycle racing since 2003. Recently, there were 2 deaths in 8 days. While not strictly a MotoGP event, Peter Lenz was killed in a USGPRU race during the MotoGP weekend at Indianapolis. He was 13 years old. Accusations of poor parenting have been leveled. Others disagree. Then, in Italy, a promising 19 year old racer from Japan, Shoya Tomizawa was killed in a similar accident. Questions have been raised about the performance of the safety officials and decisions made. A BBC overview of the situation. A video of the Tomizawa crash. It may be unpleasant footage for some to watch.
posted by neat-o (41 comments total)

 
From the second link:

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi fell four times at the track during practice and warm-ups and other top riders acknowledged the track was difficult.

And they were having 12 and 13 year-olds (Peter Lenz) run this thing? Would someone more knowledgeable please remove the "What the hell?" that's formed in my head?
posted by parliboy at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2010


Tomizawa crashed in Italy.

They were not racing on the same circuit.
posted by autocol at 8:28 AM on September 10, 2010


It's sad that Peter Lenz died so young. His parents seem to be handling it by saying that he died doing what he wanted. Really, they are not the ones I feel for.

The person I really feel for the 12 year old who ran over Peter. I can't imagine carrying that kind of burden at such a young age, knowing that I was responsible for another kid's death. It's that kind of responsibility that I'm not sure tweens get or think about until it happens to them. The result can be devastating even if it was a completely unavoidable accident. It's not right to put someone that age in a position that they might not be able to handle emotionally. I hope that child is getting lots of help.
posted by Alison at 8:34 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry... you're right. Rossi is quoted as saying that at the race Lenz crashed at.

I can only try to dispel the "what the hell?" that's formed in your mind by relating my experiences with young kids that race karts. It's pretty obvious from Lenz's list of achievements that the kid was a true superstar of the sport, for his age. To be compared with Randy Mamola is to be compared to royalty - to steal a RECORD from him! That is to BE royalty.

To deny this kid a motorcycle would have been a great injustice. I know some of the kids I coach in karting live, breathe, sleep, and study, just to go racing. Without racing they have very little. They're not academic, no good with music, can't catch a ball... but they can drive on the ragged edge! Fortunately, injury and death in karting is very rare (I've seen some massive crashes and very little in the way of injuries to speak of), and certainly motorcycle racing is more dangerous. Whether or not the safety at the race Lenz crashed at could have been improved, I don't know. I don't know the circumstances of his crash nor have I seen any footage of it. But simply taking the bike away from the kid? Definitely not the right option in my opinion.

Tomizawa was just really, really unlucky. He fell at an odd location on the circuit, and the following riders were totally unprepared for it. I don't think you could ever race a motorcycle with zero risk, but the safety record of top-flight racing in the last 20 years is pretty good, I think.
posted by autocol at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


.

[/tried ten different ways to make it into a checkered flag for dramatic emphasis, and failed miserably. Seriously, my sincerest condolences]
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:44 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was watching the race on television when Kato died in 2003. It was extremely upsetting.

I am also pleasantly surprised at how good their safety record is, with the given circumstances being high speed motorcycle racing in all sorts of weather conditions.
posted by lydhre at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although the final determination of cause of death has not been made, it should be noted that Tomizawa was dropped off the stretcher as race officials were removing him from the track. They were moving quickly in order to not impact the race. You better believe "questions have been raised."
posted by tommasz at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2010


i>top riders acknowledged the track was difficult.

And they were having 12 and 13 year-olds (Peter Lenz) run this thing? Would someone more knowledgeable please remove the "What the hell?" that's formed in my head?

A difficult track doesn't necessarily mean a track that is dangerous by any means, though, and in this example it wasn't a direct function of the track so much that caused the injuries of the riders. Producing a fast lap time is trickier at some tracks than others and getting the rhythm and flow wrong (as well as all the other myriad technicalities) doesn't always follow that you'll be falling in front of a fast moving bike that is unable to avoid you. Usually, a difficult track just means that if you get it wrong, you're slow or you end up sitting in a gravel trap looking foolish. Falling off in motorcycling is one of the major risks, but it most often results in minor to no injury. The catastrophic effects seen here resulted in falling off at the worst possible moment. This is similar in some regards to the perfect storm that hit F1 in 1994 (Ratzenberger and Senna at Imola) in that two accidents in an otherwise relatively safe (albeit high risk) sport resulted in atypically severe injuries.

While any major injury or death in motor sport should rightly invoke an enquiry, sometimes dangerous sports produce serious consequences and it doesn't always mean that 'someone died=something is terribly terribly wrong with the sport/circuit/vehicle/safety procedures'. Sometimes it just means someone was unlucky.
posted by Brockles at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2010


My heart aches every time I think about Tomizawa. I first noticed him at the season opener in Qatar, where he cried on the podium after winning. Then the next race he apologized to his competitors for leaving oil on the track, then to his team for only getting second (after rushing back to the pits after a re-flagged race).

He was a future star in MotoGP, with talent, humility and humor, and just like that, he's gone.

I watched the MotoGP race first, and heard Valentino Rossi say "Shoya was..." in the post-race conference and my heart sunk. I never watched the Moto2 race (and never will), but read after that the race was never stopped. I'm not sure I'll watch motorcycle racing anymore.
posted by letitrain at 9:13 AM on September 10, 2010


Both incidents desperately sad, and avoidable. From the Salon article:

I would ask you to consider your reaction if a neighbor of yours announced that he was allowing his 12-year-old to play with toxic chemicals. "He’s going to be a scientist some day," this neighbor might say. "He’s got to learn how to handle this stuff some time!"

Let's leave the 19 year old in Italy out of it right now (old enough to be considered an adult in many jurisdictions) but yes, there's nothing remotely rational about about an 81 pound 13 year old riding a 120 mph motorcycle in a competition organized and supported by adults. But there it is, part of the culture. Or as I commented a few months back in a FPP I'd posted about shockingly spectacular race car crashes (in which, I should point out, there were no deaths or serious injuries) ...

... I'm sure if I was a truly rational being, I would probably abhor all motorsport (not just gratuitously dangerous but also enormously wasteful and polluting and, from the lowest levels on up, a front for the worst kind of corporate propaganda). But, of course, I'm not truly rational. I saw the movie Grand Prix when I was nine and I was hooked, for life. A year later, my personal #1 hero in the world Bruce McLaren was killed in a testing crash. I remember going to school that morning utterly gutted, and incapable of explaining to anyone what was going on. But it never occurred to me to not continue being a fan. I just switched allegiances to Jochen Rindt ... who was killed maybe five months later. And so on. The sport's a lot less dangerous now but the word safe never really applies. Kind of like life, I guess. It doesn't matter how smoothly things are going, it can all go horribly wrong in an instant.

Or put it this way, if I'd had access and means, and parents willing to sign off, I'd have been racing deadly machines well before I was teenager, no question. And, in a way, I was anyway, behind my parents' back. I did really crazy things on my bike (we lived on the side of a mountain). I did really crazy things on ski hills.

But I survived. One broken finger. One mild concussion. Lots of bruises, scrapes, sprains. And lots of crazy stories to tell and, as a kid, revel in. Because as autocol effectively points out ... I know some of the kids I coach in karting live, breathe, sleep, and study, just to go racing. Without racing they have very little. They're not academic, no good with music, can't catch a ball... but they can drive on the ragged edge!

To quote a Richard Thompson song that's been in my brain for the past few days, "It's the nearest thing to being alive."
posted by philip-random at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wall Of Death by Richard Thompson.
posted by philip-random at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2010


The discussion around Peter Lenz being too young is an entirely different argument... I personally didn't get my son involved until he was a good bit older, but that was their choice.

I think all of us who ride a motorcycle on a track, in a race, understand the inherent dangers. Most of the time these accidents are more painful to ones pride than ones flesh, but it is a dangerous sport.
posted by twidget at 9:37 AM on September 10, 2010


To deny this kid a motorcycle would have been a great injustice. I know some of the kids I coach in karting live, breathe, sleep, and study, just to go racing.

But we're talking about a kid who isn't even old enough to drive a car participating in an inherently dangerous activity. An adult would hopefully have the perspective and judgment to decide that risking their life in a competition is worth it, but by law 13-year-old children are not allowed to decide that, because anyone that age is considered by the courts at least to not be competent enough to make that kind of choice. Personally I think it wouldn't be at all unreasonable for a parent of a kid who really loves racing to refuse to allow them to do so at a level that has a high potential for fatal accidents, because at the end of the day they need to decide what level of risks they are comfortable with their child taking in these sorts of competitions.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:40 AM on September 10, 2010


I would ask you to consider your reaction if a neighbor of yours announced that he was allowing his 12-year-old to play with toxic chemicals. "He’s going to be a scientist some day," this neighbor might say. "He’s got to learn how to handle this stuff some time!"

I saw that and felt bad for the author's children. Kids have an amazing ability to learn through play and I would encourage my child to throw himself into that environment. Lots of great scientists grew up playing with chemicals. 12 year olds are old enough to be safe doing just about anything.

MotoGP has had one death in 7 years. Hundreds of thousands of hours spent on the track going 120 mph and that's it. That blows my mind. I realize it's vastly more popular, but we average 5-10 deaths per year in football, mostly kids. You almost never read about those deaths, though.

But we're talking about a kid who isn't even old enough to drive a car participating in an inherently dangerous activity. An adult would hopefully have the perspective and judgment to decide that risking their life in a competition is worth it, but by law 13-year-old children are not allowed to decide that, because anyone that age is considered by the courts at least to not be competent enough to make that kind of choice. Personally I think it wouldn't be at all unreasonable for a parent of a kid who really loves racing to refuse to allow them to do so at a level that has a high potential for fatal accidents, because at the end of the day they need to decide what level of risks they are comfortable with their child taking in these sorts of competitions.

What's an acceptable level of risk?

At what age do you let your child cross the street on their own? At what age do you allow them to ride in a car with you where there's a more than 1/1000 chance each year that they'll die? When do you allow them to ride a bike? When do you allow them to swim? To visit friends' houses unaccompanied? To eat a hamburger that will slowly kill them through cardiovascular disease?

This death was newsworthy because it was unusual, but it wasn't necessarily any more likely than dozens of things that could happen to any of us any day.
posted by pjaust at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Folks, let's cut the parents some slack here. Right or wrong, they are going to pay the price, suffer the guilt, and play "what if" for the rest of their lives. We don't need to jump in and tell them how wrong they were to let the kid ride.

And, you know what, someday they might google his name, and find this thread. So, unless you want to pay them a visit and, to their face, tell them what bad parents they are at a moment when they are already feeling more pain then they could imagine, it might be best to keep those opinions to yourself.
posted by HuronBob at 9:56 AM on September 10, 2010


At what age do you let your child cross the street on their own? At what age do you allow them to ride in a car with you where there's a more than 1/1000 chance each year that they'll die? When do you allow them to ride a bike? When do you allow them to swim? To visit friends' houses unaccompanied? To eat a hamburger that will slowly kill them through cardiovascular disease?

My point was that some decisions are up to the parent and it's up to them to judge the risk. I don't think it would be unreasonable for a parent to purposely limit the amount of time a child spends in a car either, because that is one of the more dangerous things people do in everyday life. Obviously a parent cannot control everything or eliminate all risk, but I don't think anyone would argue that participating in these races is not dangerous, and it makes sense for parents to not let their kids do dangerous things that they as a parent have control over.

MotoGP has had one death in 7 years. Hundreds of thousands of hours spent on the track going 120 mph and that's it. That blows my mind. I realize it's vastly more popular, but we average 5-10 deaths per year in football, mostly kids. You almost never read about those deaths, though.

I'm guessing that the total hours that 13-year-olds have spent playing football is order of magnitudes higher than the total hours that 13-year-olds have spent motorcycle racing at potentially deadly speeds, so a direct comparison of total deaths is not really a good way to measure that. I don't know the actual numbers, but if you were to buy accident insurance for a random 13-year-old kid and a 13-year-old motorcyle racer, I highly doubt that the insurance company would crunch the numbers and find that their risk of serious injury was roughly the same for both.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:06 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both incidents desperately sad, and avoidable.

Anything is avoidable. Just ban everything. If you prevent anyone racing at all (cars, bikes, boats, on foot, planes) then will prevent anyone dying through that activity. You'll also prevent a massive, massive amount of people having a living, having fun, becoming a fitter and happier person, pushing limits and enjoying their own lives and a myriad of other reasons why they personally want to do this more than anything else you can think of. You can prevent all road bike and car deaths by stopping people driving. Not much of a solution, though.

Stopping people doing anything that could potentially harm them is a ridiculous response, though, as I'm sure you'd agree. Crashes and injuries in motorsport will never be completely avoidable - by definition it is about pushing the limits of the person, machine and the laws of physics. Everyone that competes or works in it knows this very well, and yet have chosen to continue. It is so often seen that people that don't understand (or more importantly acknowledge and embrace the concept of that risk)

I would ask you to consider your reaction if a neighbor of yours announced that he was allowing his 12-year-old to play with toxic chemicals. "He’s going to be a scientist some day," this neighbor might say. "He’s got to learn how to handle this stuff some time!"

That analogy is so wildly inappropriate and irrelevant that it was clearly written by someone who has zero clue what it means and entails to drive or ride a racing vehicle, nor of the depth of the ladder of learning that is involved in getting to ride the faster and potentially dangerous ones. It's not like the kid turned up at the track that morning for the first time and jumped on the wild machine and headed out. I'm pretty surprised you (philip-random) with your stated experience of the sport didn't either find a better way of saying what you wanted to, or at least came up with a far more appropriate analogy.
posted by Brockles at 10:17 AM on September 10, 2010


Youth plus speed equals problems. Adolescents on racing motorcycles? What did people expect?

One of my co-workers has a daughter who, just a few months ago, hit another vehicle head-on while doing something like 70 mph. She was trying to pass a line of cars on a straight 55 mph two-lane road. She was 17 at the time, and had been drinking. Her friend, riding with her, was killed; the car she hit was driven by a woman with kids who has endured terrible pain and multiple surgeries since, and whose home has had to be remodeled to accommodate her new disabilities.

The girl responsible clearly had no real grasp of the gravity of the situation when I saw her a few weeks after the accident. She was, in fact, morose over her own injuries and nervous over what charges would come from the event. Now that she has been charged with vehicular homicide, and her mug shot has been published, I'm guessing she's figuring things out. But is she really old enough to fully understand?

Now this young lady, like the rider who caused Lenz's death, is left with a lifelong realization that she caused much grief and pain along with whatever scarring she'll have from her eventual sentencing. I'm guessing she'll have a lot more pain in the years to come, as she matures and comes to grasp the consequences of her actions.

When you give a child control over anything that can cause serious harm, you are betting that child has the emotional and mental capacities to wield that object responsibly, as well as the skills and experience to do so well. Are kids really up to that? Some, perhaps. But I'd say that most are not. There's a reason that teens are risk-takers; they're simply not capable of understanding what mortality really means. It is up to adults to exercise good judgment and to keep the really dangerous toys away until the importance of others' safety is seen as more than an abstract concept.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2010


It needs to be pointed out that Lenz crashed on a warm-up lap, and not at full-speed in a race. His accident also happened at a relatively non-technical section of the track. I only point this out to try and explain how much of a freak accident Lenz' crash was, and doesn't seem to be a result of high-speed, close racing, or track difficulty.

Truly an unfortunate accident.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2010


Youth plus speed equals problems. Adolescents on racing motorcycles? What did people expect?...

When you give a child control over anything that can cause serious harm, you are betting that child has the emotional and mental capacities to wield that object responsibly, as well as the skills and experience to do so well. Are kids really up to that? Some, perhaps. But I'd say that most are not.


Most of your anecdote is bizarrely unrelated to the post - a drunk adolescent driver couldn't be further from the kind of driven, intensely focussed and hard working kids that take motorsport as a serious hobby. This is not 'most kids', this is a small subset of kids that are generally far older than their years in terms of focus, maturity and responsibility. To try and equate this (or, in fact, any) motor sport orientated accident with your average teenager shows, in the nicest possible way, considerable ignorance of the types of kids/teenagers/adults that take part in the sport and the sport in general. Especially and particularly the participants with the kind of reputations that both the unfortunate focus of this post had.

To drag drunken kids driving their own cars in an irresponsible manner into this and suggest it as some sort of enlightening example is insulting to the two victims here, to my mind, and more than a little irrelevant.
posted by Brockles at 11:01 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tomizawa was dropped off the stretcher as race officials were removing him from the track. They were moving quickly in order to not impact the race.

This is the much bigger story (in terms of negligence, preventability, whatever..). Wow.


I'm no fan of motor sport anymore. It is interesting to think though, even Pro Tour cyclists have been quoted as saying that they go fast enough, and that new innovations that allow faster speeds aren't such a great idea.
posted by Chuckles at 11:03 AM on September 10, 2010


Pro Tour cyclists have been quoted as saying that they go fast enough, and that new innovations that allow faster speeds aren't such a great idea.

Is that not related to the level of safety gear required/realistic to wear, though? Going any faster in skin tight spandex is, of course, not a very good idea. You'd have to go a lot faster to justify the extra weight of the additional safety gear that your average motorcyclist wears and I suspect that the play off between weight of safety gear and speed is at a critical balance in pro cycling rather than suggesting that the speed current cyclists go is some sort of hard limit.
posted by Brockles at 11:07 AM on September 10, 2010


Both incidents desperately sad, and avoidable.

Sad, yes, avoidable, well, as has been said, anything is avoidable if you don't do it. Tomizawa would most likely have walked away but the circumstances of the incident made being hit by two riders unavoidable.

As for the danger of putting younger folk in these situations I see young children in cars every day. What is the fatality rate of death by car accidents versus death by motorcycle or say, F1 accidents in the last 10 years? I can see about 34 000 fatalities in the States but can't find a solid ratio.

Racing has fatalities of course but it's also setup to reduce them in very effective ways, most of the time.

As for maturity, it can be factor, and young athletes like young anyone can lack perspective but the joke about racing drivers is, even when they're adults, is that they don't understand the laws of physics or choose to ignore them.

Back in Jackie Stewart's day, when deaths were the norm in auto racing, the men were mature.

In either case, young or old, you are in a controlled environment that for the most part does a wonderful job of safety.
posted by juiceCake at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2010


I roadraced at the club level for several years. There is no way Lenz could have gotten as proficient as he was without spending lots of time at the track. If you spend enough time at the track, you'll see injuries and possibly deaths (more riders die at the club level that at the MotoGP level, primarily because MotoGP only races at the very safest tracks in the world. You'd be appalled at some club-racing venues.)

So Lenz knew, as all racers know, that the sport is dangerous. He probably also believed that it'd never happen to him. See, here's the thing: all racers believe it'll never happen to them. If we didn't dissociate the risk, we couldn't do the things we do. The 13-year-old and the 30-year-old are in the same place emotionally about risk. The teen feels immortal because he's a kid. The adult feels immortal because if he didn't, he'd think racing was too dangerous and stay home watching the Golf Channel.
posted by workerant at 11:19 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Brockles, the only parallel I'm really trying to draw here relates to wisdom, age, experience and the ability to grasp the import of one's behavior. Granted some of this is unrelated but I still maintain that young people may be focused, mature and responsible yet still be unable to grasp concepts like death to the point where the knowledge will temper their actions.

When someone claims a kid is "wise beyond his/her years" I question just how true that really can be. There's a reason that we have a legal drinking age, a legal driving age etc.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:23 AM on September 10, 2010


I'm pretty surprised you (philip-random) with your stated experience of the sport didn't either find a better way of saying what you wanted to, or at least came up with a far more appropriate analogy.

Brockles, to clarify, I used that analogy from the Salon article to clarify what I believe is the standard, non-motorsports-involved person's perspective on the Lenz tragedy in particular. That is, what f***ing madness to let a little kid ride a motorcycle that fast! It's not just crazy, it's criminal!

The rest of my response was, I hope, an effort to speak to the value of trying to figure how to let young people (the whole culture actually) passionately pursue that which inspires them, even if there are great risks. Because to deny such passion is perhaps a greater risk.

As for my initial phrasing, "Both incidents desperately sad, and avoidable" --- I stand by that. The sad part is obvious, of course. As for avoidable, I can't help but think there will be a lot of thought put into safety precautions and perhaps tech-limitations in the wake of Lenz' death in particular. Maybe a cc/top speed limit on bikes ridden by kids under a certain age, maybe enhanced head and body protection, maybe far more rigorous track and related pre-race inspections. Research will be conducted, results will be found. It will be discovered that something more could have been done. It's precisely this approach that has allowed something like Formula One motor racing, still very dangerous, to become magnitudes less so since say, the early 1970s. In fact, I believe it was the 1970 F1 season where of the twenty-one drivers who started the first race, seven would be dead (by on track accidents) within three or four years.
posted by philip-random at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2010


When someone claims a kid is "wise beyond his/her years" I question just how true that really can be.

Honestly, you need to go to a race event with young kids driving and talk to them. You are questioning something that you patently have no clue about nor experience of, even though some are here with direct experience telling you otherwise.

Granted some of this is unrelated but I still maintain that young people may be focused, mature and responsible yet still be unable to grasp concepts like death to the point where the knowledge will temper their actions.

Workerant hit this one quite well already, but the underlying point is that you should really not judge how well or fully most young participants in racing (or another suitable intense dangerous sport) understand the concept of risk by trying to equate them to the normal kids you see in your neighbourhood. They are simply not the same kind of kids. Your (in the nicest possible way) ignorance of a complete subset of kids is colouring your inability to grasp how much they understand of the risks that they take. Much the same lack of understanding that the Salon article and the claims of bad parenting revolve around, if it makes it any easier to understand or accept.
posted by Brockles at 11:33 AM on September 10, 2010


The people justifying why stopping kids from doing motorsport would not be right seem to be missing a nuance in parliboy's question. Wasn't it less about whether the parents/authorities should be "taking the bike away from the kid" completely, as much as taking the bike away from the kid at one race / at one track where even the reigning champion fell off four times.

Still, I suppose that's a totally moot point really. In that, wherever you draw the line, anything short of stopping it completely will see some non-zero number of people get hurt which will mean some people will say you should have drawn the line somewhere else.

Sad to hear about the deaths.
posted by Slyfen at 11:37 AM on September 10, 2010


Is that not related to the level of safety gear required/realistic to wear, though?

The obvious comparison is with safety gear worn by motor bike racers.. Leathers, better helmets, gloves.. What else? I used to follow different car racing circuits, but I've never followed motorcycle racing at all.

The injuries that actually take bicycle riders out of races are broken bones. Mostly arms/wrists (how do you break a joint--but that's off topic) and collar bones, sometimes ribs. I wouldn't think the equipment worn by motor bike racers could help very much for that stuff, even if it was practical.

Actually, I probably shouldn't have brought it up.. Thinking about the differences, the major common safety issues in bicycle racing are related to the peleton. Pretty different from motor racing.
posted by Chuckles at 12:03 PM on September 10, 2010


Putting a young person on a powerful machine, and asking him/her to achieve death-defying speeds is just wrong, especially given what we know about the inability of young brains (up to age 24, or so) to cognate forward consequence - i.e. they show poor judgment in risky situations. There is a "species survival" reason for this - i.e. risk taking (killing the buffalo with a spear, for meat) was once a necessary function, and the less "second thinking" a young brain did, the better for the tribe. In any case; it's hard science that shows this to be the case. And, in fact, based on the science, I am now completely in favor of drawing a hard line that says NO young adult under the age of 21 should have a license to drive a motorized vehicle of ANY kind, period.

As this research becomes better known, we should be holding anyone who permits a young person to take a risk like this criminally responsible for untoward consequences.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:51 PM on September 10, 2010


30mph is a death defying speed if you hit something solid at that speed without protection. You can get up to that speed on a pedal bike if you try hard enough.

And, in fact, based on the science, I am now completely in favor of drawing a hard line that says NO young adult under the age of 21 should have a license to drive a motorized vehicle of ANY kind, period.

I'm having extreme difficulty taking any of your comment seriously. To suggest that this is in the slightest bit realistic as a claim is utterly laughable. It bears absolutely no resemblance to any 'science' at all.
posted by Brockles at 4:06 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Risk and reward are coupled. Everything has risk. Get over it.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Peter Lenz was not on the same level of bike as Rossi. You cannot directly compare the characteristics of the bikes on that circuit. Also this was Rossi's second race back after breaking his leg approx 50 days earlier.

Peter Lenz was not just put on that bike for the weekend. He started from a young age and worked his way up. He was there because he demonstrated a level of control and a level of responsibility.

@Vibrissae: perhaps you too should learn a level of control.
posted by ajh_ at 4:41 PM on September 10, 2010


See, here's the thing: all racers believe it'll never happen to them. If we didn't dissociate the risk, we couldn't do the things we do. The 13-year-old and the 30-year-old are in the same place emotionally about risk

The difference is that the 13-year-old has other people who are legally and ethically responsible for his well-being.
posted by burnmp3s at 5:33 PM on September 10, 2010


I climbed onto my first race bike 38 years ago. Within 40 minutes I was in the emergency department with fairly severe facial injuries. Within 2 weeks I was literally begging my Dad NOT to sell my bike. All I wanted was to get back on and twist that throttle.
Until you KNOW the feeling that racers have, the NEED for the adrenaline rush, yes, the NEED for speed, you should shut the fuck up. It's not as simple as saying it's dangerous, so don't do it.
I've personally lost a dozen buddies racing,young and old, and if I join them doing what I love the most, I'll be happy. (and dead).

There's something worse than helicopter parents, helicopter no-fucking relation whatsover.

/end rant
posted by Duke999R at 5:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


@burnmp3s: and Peter Lenz was turned out for this race by his responsible parents in approved leathers and helmet on a bike that passed scrutineering for both class validation and safety.
posted by ajh_ at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2010


Oh.

. & .
posted by Duke999R at 5:51 PM on September 10, 2010


13 years without a fatality is unheard of in almost any motor-racing league (the exception being autocross and other observed-trial races). It's unheard of for almost any human activity with an element of physical risk.

Motorcycle racing is apparently a safer activity for young teens than Boyscouting, athletics, or even 4H.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2010


I don't know the actual numbers, but if you were to buy accident insurance for a random 13-year-old kid and a 13-year-old motorcyle racer, I highly doubt that the insurance company would crunch the numbers and find that their risk of serious injury was roughly the same for both.

I don't KNOW the actual numbers either, but I get the feeling you would be surprised. My girlfriend plays (field) hockey, a fairly innocuous team ball sport, perhaps made slightly more dangerous by the addition of sticks to the armoury of ways that people have to hurt themselves on the field. Her annual insurance premium (paid as part of her club membership) is about 25% more than the insurance component of my kart racing licence.

I think a lot of the indignant "How could they allow this!?" responses to deaths such as these are completely skewed but the reporting of such incidents in the media. Kids die in many, varied and horrible ways, but if they were having FUN at the time then the parents are selfish, irresponsible louts!

It's a bit like the effects of drugs really. No-one cares how many homeless 40 year old men with bad teeth die, but when a single pretty 16 year old girl kicks the bucket, there's blanket media coverage for a week, and indignant parents scream "How could they allow this!?"
posted by autocol at 11:49 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


A word about Lenz - It needs to be restated because some people aren't getting it. This kid wasn't just given a new bike for Christmas, whereby his beaming parents said, "Let's go to the track!"

It simply does NOT work that way.

To be out there at all, the kid had to demonstrate a level of proficiency beyond your normal Class-M-Rated motorcyclist. To compete at that level requires maturity and focus, regardless of age. You either have it or you don't - and more importantly, if your kid doesn't have it, don't get pissed off about your kid's lack of it, or assume that no kids can do this because yours can't.

This kid could have been the next Doohan, Biaggi, Fogarty or Bostrom.

Terrible loss for all families concerned.
posted by Thistledown at 6:46 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's sad as shit, the deaths of both of them, any way you slice it.

The 'outcry' about the irresponsible parents is misplaced - understandable, but once more is known about the security measures in place, well, I would feel far safer riding on a track at race speed than down any street.

The treatment of Tomizawa after his crash is another, perhaps bigger shame. Here's two articles about them:
Charges likely dropped

and
Dorna's official explanation. (Dorna is the governing body of MotoGP)
posted by From Bklyn at 12:30 PM on September 11, 2010


« Older Q&A with Duncan Jones, the director of the recent ...  |  Influential evolutionary biolo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments