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Does organized motorcycle racing discriminate against bigger people?

Pedroso on his Repsol Honda
Pedroso on his Repsol Honda
Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

A casual examination of motorcycle racing, be it MotoGP or Supercross, clearly shows that Pro riders are a tiny lot. Tiny, being in the 5-foot nothing range and weights that bigger guys bench-press for a warm-up weight at the gym. There's quite a lot of banter about the size/weight aspects of racing on the web. MotoGP rider Dani Pedroso is a mere 5'3" and a whopping 112 lbs. There are other examples, too. James Stewart of Supercross and MX fame is a bit more svelte at 150 lbs according to the Supercross website and seems towering at 5'7" when compared to Pedroso. Of course, these are two entirely different racing disciplines so naturally, height, weight and musculature will vary.

But overall, it would appear that, say for a few examples of taller/heavier riders, smaller is better. Does that mean, that bigger folks need not apply?

Lets look at the physics. Power to weight is something any racing engineer values. Lower the weight and increase the power and -- wa-la -- there's a faster bike and rider combo. Aerodynamics need to be considered as well. The faster anything travels with a given wind resistance footprint, the greater the friction and resistance will be. Add more surface area and drag increases. How much? We'll leave that to the math whizzes out there.

So, does organized motorcycle racing discriminate against bigger people? Probably not. Well, not intentionally, at least.

Lets face it, racing is super competitive and racers are rather passionate about what they do. How many times have NASCAR drivers been fined for throwing helmets and/or punches at each other in the pits or after a race? After all, their careers depend upon success and getting pudgy behind the handlebars isn't terribly good for longevity.

It's probably no different than Wheel of Fortune on TV. 57 year old Vanna White hasn't kept her gig all these years by eating at the Golden Arches. One could assume that if she packed on the pounds, she'd be flipping burgers, not letters. Could anyone replace the elegant Vanna? Could you?

Right. Me neither. And that certainly isn't discrimination. Nor is prohibiting the hairy fat guy from being a Hooters waitress.

Market demand will continue to be the driving force for racing, TV and chicken wings. We don't want some big, bulky dude installing ape hangers on the Repsol Honda because of their lanky arms. Nor do we want any of Honey Boo-Boo's clan replacing the lovely Vanna anytime soon.

So it's not discrimination when the square peg finds the square hole. It's just business. We're all best suited for different gigs, some thin, some not.

Lets just hope that horse racing jockeys aren't all of a sudden being cross-trained for the steel and plastic versions. That's probably going a bit too far.

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