MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Racism in the paddock
Will there ever be a Lewis Hamilton of MotoGP, a black king of motorcycle racing? Of course there will be.
Who does best at what often has much to do with culture, race, class and geography, but while international motorcycle racing is an overwhelmingly white sport, a black racer has already climbed the highest heights. American James Stewart has won world and US championships in motocross and Supercross. Thus it is only a matter of time before a black, Asian or Chinese racer gets to the top of MotoGP.
But despite the success of Hamilton and Stewart, the odds are stacked against black people in car and ‘bike racing. I’ve spent three decades working in motor sport and my own experience tells me that the paddock is more racist than most areas of modern life.
Only weeks ago I heard a well-respected figure in the higher echelons of ‘bike and car racing refer to Hamilton as “Sooty”, and we all know that this person is by no means the first to hit the twice Formula 1 champ with a racist slur.
It’s the same in MotoGP. I’m not suggesting that the paddock is a ferment of racism – there are many kind, intelligent and liberal-minded people around – but I believe there’s more racism within than without.
A few years ago I heard a factory MotoGP rider say the words, “the older I get, the more racist I get”. I know a factory MotoGP team owner whose derisive term for all journalists was “press n*****s”. I know a famed factory mechanic who, when discussing the death of Pakistan’s British cricket coach Bob Woolmer a few years ago, declared that it “serves him right for working with P***s”. And I’ve heard a couple of ‘bike racers refer to black music as “that n****r s**t”.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.