Andrew Short has got a lot going on in 2005. In addition to being one of the new members on Team Honda and one of the favorites for the Western Region 125cc Supercross Championship, Shorty has agreed to check in with TransWorld Motocross with a regular editorial column. Fresh off his three-day sweep of the Bercy Supercross, Andrew shares some of his experiences with TWMX online…
You may have read about the Bercy/Paris SX from a journalistic point of view, but what you haven’t heard is the rider’s perspective. The trip to Europe always starts and finishes in a horrible way, due to the dreadful airplane experience. Still, as a rider I get to just show up at the airport with my wife, all excited and ready to go. The people who have it tough are the mechanics, who try to stuff a race bike in a suitcase! I must say, Losch and Dan from Honda tackled the duties for me with ease, though. They brought everything except a frame, wheels and swingarm. Fortunately, our team caught the TSA in a good mood and we all walked through customs, unscathed. The TSA forgot to stamp our passport, but we didn’t have the courage to go back and ask the scary G.I. Joe customs guys for it. We just wanted something to show for our trip to France and thought the stamp would do it, but that would soon change…
Jet lagged, grumpy, and stinky from the eleven-hour flight, we all washed up in the RV-sized shower at the hotel. The mechanics all met at the stadium to begin building the masterpieces that had to survive three nights of racing chaos. With next to no sleep, Losch and Dan decided that the French translation of Ratio Rite didn’t exist, and played the guessing game as they added oil to my motor. KTM is lucky enough to have the factory in Austria to drive them over a bike or two. You could see the despair in the faces of those mechanics whose parts didn’t make the trip: Frankie from Factory Connection looked like he lost his dog because his so-called “Gucci parts got pulled off the plane in the last minutes before takeoff.
After visiting with the mechanics for a while, my wife and I went to what has become our favorite Italian restaurant. Terry and Craig from Fly Racing joined us and as we ate, we talked how important this race was to me. Now that I have the opportunity to ride for Honda on such unbelievable bikes, I feel I have a lot to prove. I’m often reminded by my mechanic that I’m the only the only one on the team without a championship! I hope to change that this season! I knew that the three-day race in Bercy was a key part in my preparation for the upcoming season. I was looking forward to using the race to measure where my speed, fitness and equipment stood.
Practice started off well and I used it to get used to the unique track. The soil was comparable to brown Play Doh! The best parts of the track were the tunnels you race through. It’s more than a little unreal pinning it down a long hallway, passing peoples’ offices in fifth gear! One of the many unusual aspects of the race is that your practice times are used to determine your gate pick for your heat race. At the end of practice they close the track down and then you’re allowed to practice several starts. Of course, after my practice start I managed to lay it down on the least technical part of the track and I watched helplessly as my bike was transformed into a 4th of July sparkler as it slid down the start straight. I officially earned the Goon of the Week Award! With the award, came a bruised knee and road rash on my arms. Nice. (Needless to say, I crawled through the first turn only using my rear brake at the start of my first heat race.)
Opening ceremonies in Bercy puts the American races to shame. I hate to say it, but the French definitely have us beat! They get everyone’s heart pumping with lights,, lasers, music, and even half-naked pom pom girls. Earplugs are a must because every fan is equipped with at least one air horn and a pack of cigarettes. When Jean-Michel Bayle came in, the place went crazy and left our ears ringing for the rest of the night.
For the American riders this was our opportunity to race with our European counterparts. It was also a tremendous honor to race Mickael Pichon, a past world champion. I realize the results probably would be different if we were on a motocross track, but I was still so excited to have the opportunity to race him on his home turf. The races went about as perfect as they could have for me. My starts were good and I won every heat and main event. All of Team Honda’s work really paid off!
In between all the racing, the freestyle show goes on. And let me tell you, it gets out of control! The night started out with a whip contest where Ronnie Renner and Edgar Torronteras made it look easier to pull a barrel roll then to bring their bikes that far upside down and back. Then there were the flips! Dinner after the race sometimes turned into more of an escapade then the show itself. Let me just say that a freestyler’s reputation precedes itself and in some cases, is not just rumor! For example, I have never seen a motocross racer rider drinking pee out of a wine bottle, but the freestyle guys acted like it was no big deal.
The best part of this year’s Paris race for me was the trophy presentation on the first two nights. The promoters present some of the coolest trophies in the business. With confetti falling from the ceiling and fans screaming, it feels surreal as the trophy girls award you the prize along with the European double kiss on the cheek. It was an atmosphere that left me with goose bumps on the back of my neck. The night three trophy presentation was scary. As weird as it sounds I didn’t feel safe going on the podium. Alessi just finished in second after punting the local French favorite over the berm. The Paris crowd was loud, and since they were upset, they were really loud. I have never witnessed a riot, but I thought the crowd was close to that kind of a frenzy and because of that atmosphere I was honestly scared to get on the podium so close to that kid. In the end it turned out ok, and no one was harmed, well except for Lauret.
After three nights of racing, you really start to appreciate the good ole’ USA. It’s tradition after the race that all of the Americans get together and tell some of the finest stories around. This year the storytelling was led by Brock Sellards, who’s a song writer but not a singer, and by Greg Schnell (Schnellyville), who was in rare form. He had pictures to go along with his stories and he made everyone cry because they were laughing so hard. I can’t blackmail anyone (although I do take cash) so I will just leave it at that. In the end even though I did not get a stamp on my passport, but I ended up with something better: three big trophies and tons of incredible memories.
– Andrew Short