Editorial/Opinion regarding Willow Springs AMA National cancellation after 9-11-01:
Kenny Kopecky Puts Cancellation Of Willow Springs AMA National In Perspective
This First Person/Opinion piece just in from WSMC's Kenny Kopecky (appearing in RoadracingWorld.com and the WSMC Newsletter in 2001):
What makes you frustrated? Perhaps, even angry? So angry you would write to the people who provide many racing opportunities for thousands of people and blast them, directly after the most heinous attack on your nation in history?
I wonder. How do you rank these situations? The largest one day loss in NY Stock Exchange history. Tens of thousands of jobs lost or soon to be lost. Hijacking of four domestic airliners and use of them to attack huge buildings full of people. Domestic airline businesses in jeopardy. Increased security at the airport. Longer flight travel delays. More than five thousand people killed in less than 2 hours. War. Murder. Terrorism. How about cancellation of a motorcycle race?
In the last week we at Willow Springs have experienced the terrible tragedy as have the rest of you, and have been greatly affected by the events on the East Coast. The biggest event of the year at WSIR cancelled. Many question why it's cancelled, and I will refer them to the information and releases previously posted on Roadracing World's "Breaking News" for that.
The financial impact for WSIR is quite large, much more so than any pro racer who isn't going to win purse and contingency awards, larger than the dozens of event workers put out of a job; yet I wonder why WSIR (and to a lesser extent WSMC) have received what in my opinion amounts to hate mail, from anonymous writers?! People who are fans of this sport? Maybe the fact that they are upset is good...it means they are alive and can enjoy their freedom to express their opinions and perhaps even enjoy a nice WSMC roadrace event soon or an AMA National in 2002. But I wonder...
Did they shed a tear for the loss of our race? Personally, I am into motorcycle racing about as much as a human could be...it is indeed "my life" more so than many. The 2001 season has had more ups and downs than most of my many racing seasons. I've won races and lost them. Some of my friends have gone really fast, as have I. Some have crashed and been hurt. One of my friends won his first ever expert race, than lost his life in pursuit of another win the very next day. I've just won another Willow class championship title but was saddened at the crash of another of my racing friends in the very event I clinched the title in. And the loss of the AMA National is very, very sad for all of us at Willow. We were looking forward to the greatest roadracing imaginable at the fastest road in the West.
Did they really shed a tear? Were they SO angry about the cancellation of a race that they cried?
I didn't. The last week has been much more trying with the devastation and loss of so many in the terrorist attacks. But to the anonymous writers of hate mail because a race is cancelled I say this. There will be other opportunities for ALL OF US to attend a National or a club race, spectate or participate in them, enjoy the sunrise and sunset...and so much more life has to offer.
I laugh now regarding a recent e-mail I received, completely unrelated to the attack but somehow it makes me think...
Part of it read "The last two months, the...race has been run in the most appalling conditions,..ie, serious heat and wind..." and goes on to "you are well adapted to the "apocalyptic" conditions... please, give us a break". Indeed. Heat! Wind! Serious? Sun and sky above! Apocalyptic? Mmmm, no...not in my opinion! My racing friend who wrote that will likely never think of racing here with us as apocalyptic after 9-11-01. He was frustrated, maybe even mad about the weather? Now, I think that is most excellent! To that I say "keep on kickin"! You know it, because you better enjoy the fun while you can. Thousands and thousands of people back East won't be...
Our sport is exciting, dangerous, fast, furious and fun. But it is just that...a sport! Indeed, it is a business for many of us which we gratefully acknowledge. A business in a fantastic sport.
Gregory and Christopher Huth and their WSIR staff had worked their butts off preparing for the National event, and they were ready. Fine pre-event planning. More bleachers than ever before for the thousands and thousands of expected race fans. Dozens of additional workers were "lined up" and looking forward to the big event. But it didn't happen. Are you really mad about that? Those of us working here full-time aren't. Sure, we are quite sad at the loss of the race. Our race! However, we are much more deeply saddened by the loss of innocent victims and for their families, and the wide ranging impact the attacks are having on people and the economy all over the nation.
Did you cry because a motorcycle race was cancelled?
I sure didn't...but I haven't gone a day in the last week now without shedding tears for my fellow Americans and people of all nationalities that were killed last week.
I look forward to our upcoming monthly WSMC meets as eagerly as ever, and I actually think more so this month than usual. It is here that we can enjoy the camaraderie of friends and fellow competitors. Where we can introduce some new friends in our School to the thrill of riding and racing with WSMC. To experience the freedom to go out and ride our motorcycles as fast as we can or dare. To see the smiles of the winners and losers of all the races. Wait. I have a different view of that. In my opinion there are no losers. If you are here, alive, riding and racing, kicking, shouting, screaming (maybe even in your helmet when rest of us can't hear...), having fun and going home to your friends and families afterwards. Reliving the fun of riding and racing your motorcycle. Thinking about that heat and wind...and having enjoyed your time here with us. You are all winners.
We sincerely wish all those affected directly in this tragedy the best, and for those of you in the United States Armed Forces and with family in the services, our prayers are with all of you for success and a safe return home.
Thank you all for your support of WSMC road racing (and I must add that the majority of mail the track and I have received has been supportive and understanding during this sad time), and of any support you can provide to those in need during the National tragedy which has moved so many of us, in so many ways.
May God Bless America and all of you.
WSMC Operations Manager