Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Remembering the past at Brno

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.


Remembering the past at Brno

At Brno I asked Dorna if they would arrange a minute’s silence on the MotoGP grid to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which claimed the lives of 55 million people and changed the lives of hundreds of millions forever. Indeed, it changed the entire world forever. We all live with the ongoing effects of what happened back then – just ask anyone who lives in Brno and knows what happened there during the war.

Carmelo Ezpeleta considered my request and turned it down, even after I had pointed out that during the weekend of the 1997 Czech Grand Prix he happily arranged a minute’s silence on the grid to mark the occasion of the death of Princess Diana.

The idea of commemorating such a huge event as the end of the world’s greatest conflict is not at all to celebrate victory or patriotism or nationalism or anything else, but to ensure that everyone remembers what happened, in the sincere hope that such a war will never happen again.

Sport is meant to be a distraction from the trials and tribulations of life, but it is not entirely separate from real life. Dorna has arranged silences for many tragic events that have taken place far from the paddock and have nothing whatsoever to do with MotoGP: the death of Princess Di, the murder of a Spanish politician by ETA, the recent German Wings air disaster and so on.

The fact that they chose to ignore such an important anniversary as the end of WW2 makes me wonder if they – like some other sports like Formula 1 and football – are becoming entirely divorced from humanity.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

... such a awful part of the history of humanity. No one would be harmed if there was a one minute of silence or any kind of mentioning. I guess that Dorna didn't want to have any "negative" mood before the race. A great comparation with F1 by the way...

on the other part a bought going thru the pits. try NHRA drag racing all is open from the slowest too the fastest vehicles. autographs galore for the kids and adults alike and up too 10,000 horsepower dosent make a boring day. dorna should try this and see how there numbers would rise.
yes its a shame they could not give only one minute too reflect what was, and for those that gave every thing to save what we have now.

I first proposed this name on the late, great motogpnews.com.
Seems to me that Carmelo Ezpeleta is better known as Caramel Expletive.
We must remember our unsavory past so that we do not repeat it.
And by remembering the end of the war, we also celebrate peace.

Remembering WW2 is not what's wrong here. I had 2 grandfather's who fought in WW2, one for the Yanks and one for the Brits, and I'm hugely proud of them. It's Matt Oxley using it as a springboard for a good moan in a thoroughly glum piece. I'm sorry for any offence, none intended.

Great article about the importance of the pivotal, tragic, and deadliest time in the the 20th century.
The craziness of WWI continued on into WWII. The Tragic lessons of history need to be taught to those whom think they are immune from the lessons of history.

Lesson being; MotoGP may not survive the next economic collapse.

A minute's silence for reflection is always a good idea - especially when it's spent considering human folly and mortality. The state of the world demonstrates we spend too little time reflecting on our actions.
It's not surprising the MotoGP circus is losing touch with reality - insane expense plus pampered celebrity riders using technology useless to the general public will encourage entry into a dreamworld epitomized by worship of Princess Diana.

I appreciate the idea and its relevance in general, and still agree with Carmelo that it is preferable to not have it at the GP. I am in favor of them for the loss of riders. I am well connected with awareness of global affairs and pursuing peace and the situations that support it. MotoGP? The well cultivated motorcycle racing experience at Brno is better without it. Just my preference.

Weren't we just talking about Michelins? And Lorenzo? And silly season? And...

...played for winners, and flag draped riders circling the track post race, and military aircraft flyovers, and other such jingoistic nonsense.

So maybe it might be wise, if you're going to tolerate such behavior, to occasionally have a reality check regarding the potential outcome of letting jingoistic nonsense to go too far?

Actually I found it quite a good insight into the mindset of your average Dorna chief big wig and with whom they believe where their priorities lay with. This drive for 'celebrity nurturing' Is it going to push the sport forward onto bigger and better things? I don't know but certainly poses some interesting questions. For me (whether naive or not) I quite like that fringe element to motorbike racing, unfettered and unadorned unlike most other mainstream sports, it appeals to me,,, or maybe to DORNA that is exactly the problem to which we have this impetus to correct it.

Also to not pay your respects to something so monumental, where not one person within that paddock (or out), has in some measure been affected by (included said big wigs) is at the very least born of ignorance.

Aloofness or an effort in pursuit of impartiality, call what you want, but if we make no conscious effort to remember our past mistakes then we are doomed to repeat them. A philosophy that of course carries through into most things, (and that also includes our beloved motorcycle racing).

Sorry Mat. You were way off base asking for the moment. And you are way way off base taking to the bully pulpit to report on your rejection. In the future plesse contain your activities to things like racing.

While it is true that Motogp is an excellent source of entertainment, we must not forget to allow this entertainment to overshadow the what is truly important in the world which are friends, family, and life. Therefore, it would not have hurt anyone to honor those who gave their lives in these wars. Finally, if the there are readers who had a problem with what Max was saying, i would advise them to do some serious soul searching. You do realize that its still possible to enjoy a day of racing, while also giving respect to those who can no longer do such things. Give it a try and I'm sure you can still have a good day.

No, I'm not kidding. My original last sentence was: "In the future plesse contain your activities to things that don't matter, like racing." However I thought that was too snarky, and editied it during the preview phase. I understand the horrors of war, I am an anti-war American, and I find your sanctimony disgusting. The dead are dead, if you need to puff yourself up by "honoring" them, take it to the streets. You do not have the right to force it on me.

Definiton - sanctimony: "Righteousness accompanied by an unwarranted attitude of moral or social superiority; smug or hypocritical righteousness."

Definition - force: "coercion or compulsion, especially with the use or threat of violence."

Seriously man, how on earth do you justify using these sorts of words? Your idea of "force" is somewhat different to mine if you feel there is some metaphorical gun to your head if you don't read every word of every article. If you don't like the tone of something, just click the damn button, move on, and leave the rest of us to read something of the bigger picture rather than just the minutiae of heat resistant tyre layers and spec electronics. Many of us enjoy the small glimpses Messrs Emmet and Oxley allow us behind what is a becoming a frayed gossamer of glamour that surrounds the paddock.

And "sanctimonious"? Really? Maybe you should examine your own vitriol before casting about with unwarranted accusations. I'm seeing nothing but a bunch of people who want a small token of respect shown towards a calamitous WORLD event at what is a WORLD championship. Given the veritable united nations of people in the paddock that sounds like a pretty damn fine place to show such respect. Remember some of the technology arising from that horrendous conflict shaped our sport, with the German rocket technology developed in WWII directly leading to the creation of expansion chambers for our beloved 2 stroke GP bikes.

Sport apolitical? Haha, that's too funny! Go to any committee meeting at any grassroots sporting event and that theory is blown out of the water. And as you go higher up the competitive rungs it only gets worse. Sad but true. Sheesh, even in these great annals hardly a day goes by when you don't hear something of "too many Spanish rounds", "too many pom's", "OMG the State's are gonna lose a round next year", yada yada....how is that not political?

But thanks Mat, it's great to see/hear something of the BIGGER picture. We see/hear a lot about how expensive the sport is and the difficulty in obtaining sponsorship etc, but rarely do we actually here WHY. We hear a lot about the bikes and riders and teams but we don't hear so much about the context in which they operate and your article definitely filled in a few blanks for me.

We, as humans, have different understandings of what is good or bad, what we should do and what we shouldn't. We have different morals, it is part of society. And therefore it is important to understand that diversity and to respect people that have different views.

That is being human. Not only it is being human. having respect for people with other other faiths, other views, other skin colour, etc. is the essence of being a "good" human.

So when Max tries to impose his personal view to the whole MotoGP family, and decides to mount a rant when people do not agree with him, he is behaving with lack of respect, he is loosing touch with what being a human is.

The issue I have with Mat's article is that it only represents HIS side of the story and makes absolutely no effort to represent the process that Carmelo took to arrive at his decision. We all like to bash on Carmelo but the reality is that MotoGP is owned and operated by a board of directors for a hedge fund. Carmelo runs the day to day operations but he has to answer to a group of people.

Its easy to Matt to sit on his pulpit and point on all the issues with his request being denied, but what he needs to understand is that at the end of the day he is a journalist making a request, if it gets denied DONT BITCH ABOUT IT cause at no point in time does he stick his neck out there and talk to a board of directors to explain his actions.

BTW other companies that didn't commemorate the event

Google (not even a google doodle)
Microsoft
Yahoo
Facebook
Cisco
etc

Isn't Matt just pointing out how far removed from reality the MOTOGP paddock is? and how unsustainable that also is? There are deeper similarities with regard to the leadership and direction taken.

I attended the Brno event and wandering around the paddock listening to the chatter, it dawned on me that there were a great many more nationalities represented there than is usual at a MotoGP weekend.
I could hear Russian, Japanese, American, British, Italian, French, Australian, Finnish, Czech, Polish....... probably most of the world's languages associated with the second world war.
In fact with so many Eastern European countries attending this GP, it got me wondering how all of these people's lives had been affected by both WW1 and WW2, as this is one of my other interests.
Brno lies in the Sudetenland, a key part of the build up to WW2 and the scene of some horrific reprisals by Czechs against their fellow countrymen, just for their being German speaking. Not for being a supporter of Hitler, which they weren't, just because Hitler had used a spurious claim to take over a whole country.

Sport is one way of building bridges between nations and should be used in reconciliation too. He who forgets the past is forced to relive it sooner or later!

There is a lesson to be learned there, but DORNA's probably too busy to learn it because it's doffing its cap as it shows some actor/model/sportsperson/politician the inside of Valentino Rossi's pit, in the hope that a little reflected glamour will bring the corporate millions flowing into the sport. It never does.

Personally I'm always a little annoyed when race-day matters are interrupted so the commentators can say silly things about some actor/model/sportsperson/politician who has no business on the grid.

Pretty soon Caitlyn Jenner and the Kardashian Clan will be having wardrobe malfunctions in parc ferme.

Please, Caramel Expletive, no!

Lot of hot air being blown around 1 minute (that's 60 whole seconds if you've forgotten).

1 minute to remember WW2 on the 70th anniversary? 1 minute to just recall millions of lives on both sides lost? No.

1 minute for Princess Diana, sure!

Give me a break... my favorite is the comment "You do not have the right to force it on me."

That would make a great line for a fat lady wearing a viking hat to sing on-stage somewhere.

Followed by this:
"So when Max tries to impose his personal view to the whole MotoGP family, and decides to mount a rant when people do not agree with him, he is behaving with lack of respect, he is loosing touch with what being a human is."

Ha ha... and what are you doing by ranting against him in a public forum ?

Please... spare us the melodrama.

Their decision not to have a minutes silence could have been affected by the amount of Japanese involved in the sport and their obvious discomfort in remembering that era. Also the Spanish have never really come to terms with their past during that period.
Spain went through a brutal civil war and although they were neutral during the 2nd world war they were more friends with fascism than democracy. So its probably not on their corporate to do list, probably have more chance having a minutes silence for some cuddly creature.
I miss the 2 stoke, tobacco era, every things too clean and cuddly these days, but hey ho still some good racing

I too thought of the NHRA but for exactly the opposite reason...

Here too increasing hospitality has pushed everyone else who doesn't have a 10000HP machine out into the weeds to make way for empty tents filled with empty chairs.

I agree it's an experience every race fan should see but growing up around it a walk through the pits filled with drunks who can't even stand a whiff of nitro looses its appeal after a while.

Matt's point here is that we as a people remember our past, and don't leave it to get lost in the same weeds that the roots of the sport have been brushed off into.

That said, I happend to be in Seoul for this 70th VJ, and I could not have been more moved seeing parents in the museums showing their children and telling stories to remember their past and independence.

I then later that same day saw the Grand Prix race from my hotel room, which I promptly forgot thereafter... But the memories of that day, seeing first hand a people, an entire country, remember it's past and honor those who helped them will stay forever.

i have been going for 20 years now ether too Pomona are too sears point. havent seen all the drunks you mention(believe they can no longer afford the beer) it is very family oriented now supper cross is a different mater every ones drunk there! and yes the smell of nitro in the mourning is a rush.

I hesitate to write this because David tries to stay apolitical and focused on the sport, and this thread represents some strong opinions. Matt's message is quite insightful though, I believe. Sport should be apolitical, and primarily about enjoyment for everyone involved. It also needs to reflect reality. Matt's 'thread' was primarily driven by the lack of accessibility for the average fan, who finds access difficult if not impossible. and the engagement of potentially lifelong fans by them being able to see something of the inner-sanctum of the sport can be truly inspiring and effective in securing and maintaining fan loyalty (and their money). Yes, you may get closer to the action by attending national or club events and the skills displayed at those is sometimes at a similar level. But it isn't the same. By retreating behind barriers the teams may be helping their sponsors (they create truly valuable networking opportunities for business people) but that doesn't mean they should abandon the general fan base who, as Oxley points out, make the sport attractive to those big sponsors in the first pace.
Oxley has contributed to and clearly loves this sport. Let him have his say, for by publicising the issue it may just make some HRC/Yam or Audi/Ducati influencer find a way of keeping both happy - some more technical displays and engagement in the spectator areas would be a welcome feature if the technical, security, and other access restrictions that a top motor sport must (?) impose cannot be overcome any other way. The fan who must see the latest tech will find a way/the money. Personally, seeing a trainee or semi-retired mechanic displaying his skill on engines and chassis etc in a display area, and talking to people, would be quite a draw, even if the tech was supposedly 'old hat' for the current year. If that meant some of my expenditure was finding its way back to me, rather than to helicopters or champagne, that would be a good outcome. TV might cover it too, and it would provide a base for more tech coverage that the real pit box struggles to accommodate.
Reminding people that wars are not 'glorious' for the dead, most of them would rather be at a MotoGP race, and they should be avoided if we wish to spend our hard-earned on a different type of bang-per-buck may not be what this blog was designed for, but a reality-check is often a good thing.