Thursday, August 24, 2006

Part Four

“Gregk, why don’t you remove the front forks and rear damper to take over to the Ohlins trailer? We need a stiffer spring for the back and new valves up front.”

It was my first real task as a mechanic and I wanted to be sure to help the team as opposed to slowing them down or adding work to their already busy schedule. The garage at Assen was cramped since we were sharing it with the German RMT21 squad, but a modern sport bike is a barebones affair and the bits I needed to remove were held on by only a handful of bolts. Having done this procedure numerous times in my own garage, the task was rather simple and proved fruitful in my efforts to be taken seriously by the team. While Mark, Paul, Fred, Yves and the rest of the team worked on lighting, and custom aluminum mounts for the front and rear axle quick change equipment for pit stops, I took the parts over to the Ohlins trailer and met Rooske.

“So you are the American? Where are you from in America?”
Uh oh, I think. This could be bad.

“I’m from Texas, actually.”
He smiles a little, but it is far more of a cynical smirk than anything else.

“Ah, the land of Bush…”
Damn, I knew it.

“Yeah, but I don’t claim him”, I say with a smile, “he’s a problem child.”

“Don’t worry” and his smile grows, “I’ll give you a hard time but no one here will judge you by your country’s politics. We’re different from Americans in that respect, no?”

He’s right. In America we tend to judge an entire country based on the politics of the government. It is an unfair prejudice and an attitude I was glad the Europeans did not share with us.

“Did you know”, I began with a smile, “that when France did not support the war effort in the Middle East, we actually started calling french fries Freedom fries?”

“What? Are you serious? You must be joking!”
I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders, “It’s pretty sad sometimes.”

“No? My God, you people are worse off than I thought. And, obviously you do not realize that French Fries are not French. They’re Belgian! And if you don’t mind I think they’d like a little credit for their efforts.”

I would later learn that the Belgian Waffle exists only to keep American tourists happy and was probably created as a means of making up for the loss of their beloved frittes. I continued to chat with Rooske at both Assen and Le Mans; he was entertaining and seemed interested in asking questions that made me think about American culture. As the sole Ohlins rep he also offered our team an endless supply of expertise as we sorted the bike and tried to keep pace throughout both weekends.

Back in the garage I found myself earning more and more responsibilities as their trust in my abilities grew stronger. I did not expect too much but they seemed to appreciate the attention to detail I paid when applying graphics to the bodywork and assisted with the construction of headlight units we installed in the Le Mans specification bodywork.

"Maybe", I thought, "I'll get to work on one of the pit stops."

Continue >>


Post a Comment

<< Home