If you do some digging (aka, you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time), I am sure you can find an article I have written on this website that shares my opinion about opinion articles. My opinion? I find them stupid and rife with narcissism. And, even during my time at TransWorld Motocross Magazine as the associate editor, op-eds were not something I ever wrote. However, if there is one thing that I have been able to discern from this journey that we call existence, it is that one should never say never. Thus, here I am, going against every fiber of my being so that you can read my op-ed about a topic that drives me bonkers. Perhaps this is a sign that I have truly turned into that old man sitting on his front porch, hollerin at the youngins to get off of his lawn. Wow. That sucks.
Okay, here’s the deal: why do we make fun of people who wear what has been deemed in our sport as “The Pickup Kit” to the races? If you don’t know what a pickup kit is, let me break it down to you in a few words: it is a person who wear’s their dirt bike jersey or the dirt bike jersey of their favorite rider to a Supercross/motocross race. That, my friends, is what our sport has dubbed “The Pickup Kit.” And, sadly, I think I may know the origins of this name. But, we’ll save that for another time. Now, like the old man I am going to be one day, let me tell you all the reasons why I am perpetually disappointed in our own fans and industry folk alike for making fun of these people who wear a dirt bike jersey to a race…
My wife and I are big baseball fans: season ticket holders to the San Diego Padres for the last 15 or 16-years. We are not bandwagon fans joining the team in the last year and a half when they’ve been making moves. We’ve been fans for 15 TERRIBLE, PAINFUL years, so when they completely shit the bed after the All-Star break this year, my wife and I sat back with our Long Island Ice Teas and said, “Ahhh, yes. Hello, darkness, my old friend.” My point being, we go to a lot of baseball games and, at these games, we see countless people wearing San Diego Padres team gear: team jerseys, team hats, team shirts, etc. You don’t think anything of it. It appears to be the same in the NFL and/or the NBA, too. Lots of fans wearing their favorite team’s jersey or their favorite player’s jersey. It’s so commonplace that you see people wearing a Fernando Tatis Jr. jersey (or whoever it maybe) at your local restaurant, at Disneyland, at a concert, at the park, at the beach, in the mall, at the grocery store… you get the point. And, when we see this, we don’t think twice about it. We just see somebody that is an LA Dodgers fan, or an SD Padres fan, etc. It’s all fine and dandy.
Now, enter the pits at Anaheim 1. If you’re not terrified, you should be. The “cool guy” overflow vibes happening in the pits of a Supercross, especially rounds like A1 and the other 96 West Coast California SX races scares me. As I have done most of my life, I do my best to remain small, unseen, and nimble so not to be caught in the line of sight of any industry folks (side effect of being a loner). Over the last few years, I have actually devised a plan where I literally just don’t go to the races anymore. Instead, I enjoy my Saturday at home with my family, before we have friends over and watch the race on TV, in the comfort of our own home. Now, enter the diehard Eli Tomac fan. He walks into the pits at A1 with his replica Eli Tomac jersey on that he bought from his local motorcycle dealership, he’s got a Monster Energy Kawasaki (now Yamaha) hat on that he bought via an Eli Tomac post he saw on Instagram, he is wearing his beat up blue jeans with worn out white sneakers, a Monster Energy can that he bought at the local liquor store is in hand so he can get into the pits for free, his official Monster Energy Supercross swag bag is in the other hand, and his iPhone ready at his belt to capture all of the pictures of his favorite rider and his favorite team during the autograph session that he’s about to wait one hour for in line. Oh, and not to mention the ticket he bought as soon as tickets went on sale for SX six months prior. If you’re giggling while reading this, it’s because you know exactly the fan I am describing. And, that is the fan that our sport makes fun of faster than two guns can be drawn from the holsters a good ‘ol fashion western showdown between two cowboys at dusk in New Mexico.
Industry guys and fellow amateur level racers, well, you see… They don’t make those mistakes when they enter the pits at A1. It is, for some reason, an unwritten rule that if you know what’s “cool” you don’t dare show up at the race wearing all of this swag. Nah, instead, you dress just like the other 100+ cool guys with your pit vipers, Bass Pro Shop hat, your oversized t-shirt with your necklace of a cross (praise Jesus) around your neck to go with your super skinny jean shorts and your pair of Vans Skate Old Skool shoes while you work on that phat dip in the left side of your mouth that’s about to be spit into your Aquafina water bottle (hell yeah, brother).
These “cool guys” make sure they are on Instagram to capture a photo of that Eli Tomac fan in his pickup kit so they can share with the rest of their followers the “kook” they just saw in the pits. Now, the irony behind all of this is that most of these ass hats have a Kevin Durant jersey, a Kobe jersey, a Kershaw jersey, or whoever it maybe in their closet that they wear to that baseball or basketball game, which is fine. But, my question is this: how, when, and why did the dirt bike industry decide they were such hot shit that wearing an Eli Tomac jersey to a race is considered embarrassing and official comedic relief on your behalf? I don’t get it. How is this any different than wearing that baseball or basketball jersey to a game? It’s not. We’re just stupid and think we are far cooler than what the reality is. Hey, guess what? We are not cool, and nobody knows what our sport is about.
Not only should we not be making fun of this “pickup kit” bull shit, I will go so far as to say that we should be got dayum thankful for this Eli Tomac super fan. Ya know why? Because HE is the one BUYING everything our sport can shell out for the fans. HE is the ONE keeping US EMPLOYED. That’s the fan that’s subscribed to every motocross print publication in our sport, he’s subscribed to every motocross podcast, he buys every product that’s advertised in his favorite podcast, he’s buying all of the TV subscriptions to watch as much live Supercross and motocross as possible, he’s on our website, Racer X, Swapmoto, VitalMX, and whatever other moto websites are out there reading everything we write, watching everything we shoot, he’s buying Monster Energy drinks because Eli is his guy, he bought a Kawasaki 450 (now Yamaha) because that’s what Eli rides, he’s bought a Bell helmet, Alpinestars gear, and Oakley goggles because that’s what Eli wears. He’s buying Red Bull’s because he watched Red Bull Imagination and Red Bull MotoSpy and loved it, he’s buying Rockstar Energy drinks because those are his favorite models at the races, he’s following all of us on social media because he envies us for what we represent: insider knowledge that he does not possess. He’s the guy leaning over the awning at the factory tent asking a question about the bike. HE wants to learn from US. And, in return, as an industry, what is our response to him? We shit all over him to our nearest friend or colleague. “Look at that goon in the Tomac jersey! Wow!” Or, we ignore him when he asks us a question. That’s how we treat the real fans of our sport. Folks are upset that so and so from someplace won’t give us that free set of gear, meanwhile Eli’s number one fan spent his entire paycheck buying every color way of A-Stars gear that they sell. You can disagree with me all you want, but I hate to break it to you, I have seen it, I still see it, and I will continue to see it happening. My point? We can do better.
This even spills over into us making fun of the “goons” at the track on a Saturday at Fox Raceway. “Did you see that guy with his visor down, elbows down, and dragging his feet all around the vet track?! Get outta here, dood!” And then, we go out and ride just like that person in order to make fun of them and, somehow, make us feel better. Once again, this “goon” is the person spending his hard-earned cash on our sport because he loves what it is and wants to be a part of the clique. So, we again mock him. Sure, sure, we can all say it’s all in good fun and that we are all kooks in our own way. This, I agree. We are all kooks in our own way. But, this holier than thou bull shit has gotta stop. We gotta stop making fun of that pickup kit guy. Because, if we don’t have him, what little threads our sport holds onto will be gone. That fan is, in my opinion, our backbone, and we need to realize that we need more of those fans and we need to embrace them. And, maybe someway, somehow, we can figure out how to rid this dumb stigma of the pickup kit in our sport. Why not wear a dirt bike jersey to the race? You’re proud that you ride and it’s your way of showing off that you like to ride. Or, you just love Eli Tomac, so wearing that Eli jersey is your way of proudly showing that you are an Eli fan. Just like you would wear your Kevin Durant jersey to the basketball game and your Buster Posey jersey to a baseball game or whoever your preferred US president is, you wear that shit proudly. That’s fine. Let’s be kind to our fans and let’s normalize this shit instead of continuing to make it this weird cool guy club that isn’t as cool as you think it is. The next time you see that pickup kit guy, give him knuckles and say thank you. We need him way more than you care to realize. Trust me, we can do better. Let’s be better. Let’s be kind. Please.