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.
Dirty money in MotoGP? It’s nothing new
For many decades the wheels of motorcycle racing have been oiled by money emanating from unsavoury sources
Now that the initial hoo-ha over VR46’s alleged multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco oil company has calmed down, perhaps this is a good time to take a long look at motorcycle racing’s historic relationship with dirty money.
The fact is that most motorcycle racers will do just about anything to go motorcycle racing. It’s a tired analogy but it bears repeating – bike racers are junkies and like any junkie they’ll do anything to get their next fix.
For example, during Britain’s 1980s proddie racing boom the paddocks at Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Cadwell and elsewhere were full of stolen motorcycles, with racing numbers in place and engine and chassis numbers mysteriously missing. So this was motorcycle racers robbing their brother and sister motorcyclists to score their weekend fix, just like a heroin addict stealing his mum’s purse.
When the media asked Valentino Rossi about the Aramco deal during last weekend’s Spanish GP the nine-times world champion artfully dodged every question, then offered these words, perhaps by way of explanation. “We are motor sport addicted.” Like the addict apologising to his mum for nicking her purse.
So what kind of dirty money has helped turn the wheels of racing motorcycles over the decades? Perhaps we should start at the top, or rather at the bottom, in the absolute pits.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.