Extreme Sports and Pot

Do Dirt Bikers Sustain the Congruency?

Words by S. Brook Reed, Interviews by C. C. Willis

Are motocrossers merely baked, slang-talking, academic slackers?” Bend, Oregon comedian Johnny Blade Rinker noisily exhales the query into his microphone. “Surfers and snow-boarders would love any degree of deflection from their pigeonholed posturing. I mean, what must one be smok- ing in order to jump four stories high on a motorcycle?” The flagrant funnyman tilts his head.

Extreme sports participants require melon-sized balls. Like motocross, surfing and snowboarding carve the unforgiving perimeters of sanity with freeform extremi- ties. Largely cerebral and physical, the activities demand spot-on timing, mental vigilance, and above-par fitness, each hardly typical of an XBOX geek. Top ‘boarders Craig Anderson and John Jackson, similar to MX hero Ryan Villopoto, lace the perils of their crafts with heart- stopping vertical transitions and quantum-claused aerial maneuvers. Seducing implied disaster, the highly technical paths of these supermen may reduce the feeble to a 911 emergency.

Ironically, apex-related athletes have traditionally been tagged “stoner dudes.” Sean Penn’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High character, Jeff Spicoli, was not only stereotyped,  but validated,  save but a few IQ points.  “All  I need is a nice wave and a cool buzz and I’m fine.”

At a glance, motocrossers may appear no different. Jeff Emig, for instance, made MX history in 1999  when  he was fired from Team Kawasaki for using pot. Among the finest riders of his era, sleepy-eyed “Jeffro” had three National titles and a prestigious supercross championship to his credit. Nonetheless, there would be no second chances for his lucrative factory contract after he was observed exhaling pungent smoke at a major AMA event. Months   later,    Jeff   would   retaliate by winning the $100,000 first place purse at the U. S. Open in Las Vegas.

Riding a low-tech, privateer Yamaha opposite high-tech, corporate-backed pros, Emig’s success almost seemed to advocate for marijuana.

In the flamboyant ‘70s, liberal Maico/Suzuki factory rider Steve Stackable hoodwinked “herbal” support. Smiling perpetually, the tall rider that was sarcastically labeled “Short Stack” ran a cannabis leaf sticker among his hel- met and fender sponsor logos, an exclusive in national/international MX to this day.

Notwithstanding, the motocross/supercross-rider-turned- hang-gliding-instructor emphatically states: “Marijuana should not be used in any competition under any circum- stances. Sure, I was a rebel, hence the sticker, but  I’ve never raced under the influence of THC. It should only be viewed as medicine.” Fair enough.

“There are no potheads in professional motocross,” three- time national champion Marty Smith adamantly states. “Period. In the 40 years that I’ve been racing,  teaching, and delegating motocross, I’ve only seen occasional pot users. If top local pros in any given area are the regular stoners, it couldn’t possibly say much for the talent in that particular state and/or province.” As dean of the Marty Smith Motocross Clinic for 30 years, as well as director of Slaton Racing supercross team for the ’11 and ’12 seasons, the guy knows what’s up.

But without question, the one-time surfer dude who rocked Black Sabbath in the Honda  pits,  bonged-out  in the off-season and at parties, no? “I know I looked the part,” Marty laughs. “But I personally have never even taken one hit off a joint. Other than a drink  here  and there, I’ve never tried drugs.”

In the epoch of NBA-cannabis-farm jokes, Marty relents. “I’m not saying pot is a caustic sports-related drug like steroids. I definitely think medical marijuana card-hold- ers should have rights, but with dispensaries closing in California, the jury is still out. Society should also be granted immunity for recreational  use.  Who’s to say what you should or should not do in your own private life.

Ultimately, in the grand equation of sports (not to mention NFL wannabe drug lord Sam Hurd), it appears that motocrossers loom almost as innocently as a Mormon gal on her honeymoon. Almost.

“Just keep it off the road and track.”

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