Finding a Win in 2020: I Announce Who Won The Covid Cup. Spoiler Alert, It's The Woman In The Photo.
I really wanted to start this off with an apology to those that have supported me as I try to continue life as a motorcycle journalist. I wanted to let you know why there was a huge gap in posting. I actually tried to make a post about just that... five times. Each attempt turned into a misanthropic rant making me sour enough to shut the laptop and play Borderlands 3 for 10 hours straight. Each attempt also left me so uninspired that I would not try to write anything again for at least a month, when you guessed it... Wash, rinse, repeat. Not a great pattern for a journalist, especially one trying to maintain that title. I'm still not positive that this writing won't find itself in the recycle bin with the other five, but thanks to some heart to heart conversations with close and trusted friends it has a shot to be seen by eyes other than mine. They told me that I do not need to explain myself, just be myself. It turns out being myself includes needing to explain myself... which I did up there in a manner so sneaky that even I didn't notice. Now that is done, on to the Covid Cup and how it came about. Prior to my fellow Americans doing the very American thing of hoarding toilet paper and blaming the (insert any political party here as they are all absolute rubbish) for creating a global pandemic, I was very busy helping the AFM Board of Directors get a race season ready. That was in addition to having my personal race program pointed in the correct direction for the first time ever, as well as having my photography business being surprisingly ready to go.
I worked with the AFM licensing/registration team to help design hard cards for the membership, something that the club had taken a year or two off of doing. I designed refrigerator magnets with the 2020 AFM schedule on them. I had an ad campaign for Road Racing World ready to implement, and we had our social media prepared for some fresh content. Collectively we had a plan to make 2020 the best member experience in recent history.
Ahh, yes...Plans... I believe it was the early American entrepreneur Al Swearengen that said "Announcin' your plans is a good way to hear god laugh." If you are not big on religion, Sir Arthur C. Clarke was on the same page when he uttered "All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe".
I made some plans that your favorite god, nature, fate, and the whole fucking universe giggled their collective asses off over.
Those schedule magnets I spent so much time on? Immediately worthless, as Sonoma Raceway gave away the AFM weekend (to some group that ended up not even using the track) before the season even started. Oh, yeah, they didn't bother to tell the AFM that the club's longstanding event weekend was cancelled. Thanks for that, Sonoma Raceway management. Your ability to manage the rental of your track reminds me of the opening scene of Sir Arthur C. Clarke's most famous work, and sheds light on just why the surface of your track is reminiscent of the streets outside of Al Swearengen's Gem Theater. In the long run it really didn't matter as the AFM didn't race on any of the planned weekends. Between Sonoma Raceway's simian inspired scheduling practices, Buttonwillow's promise to have a new track ready (second spoiler alert, it still isn't done), and COVID 19 restrictions, the race season was reduced to a total of three rounds... all on rescheduled dates.
I decided that if the AFM was going to only have three rounds and consequently no championships or awards banquet, I was going to try and do something nice for the club and with any luck get people to come out and race more. With a little more luck those racers would encourage their fellow racers to do the same.
This is when the Covid Cup was born. Independent of any normal AFM championship rules, the Covid Cup was open to any AFM competition member, novice or expert, and everyone who raced was automatically entered. The more you raced, the better your chances. The winner would be the racer that scored the most overall points all season, and they would take home a pretty sweet prize package.
Prizes you say?
I offered up 500 bucks out of my own wallet plus an Oxymoron Photography season pass ($200), and convinced the AFM to match my cash reward with a $500 race credit. I reached out to a couple of my personal sponsors for some additional goodies and they responded in force. VnM Sport happily added a base layer top to the pile, and Hustle Hard Performance contributed a pair of gloves. When word of my mission reached my friend and fellow race photographer, James "Koi" Carr, he offered to provide a few bottles of wine from Elizabeth Spencer Winery. Soon after, with generosity being contagious, AFM Race Director Barbara Smith pitched in with a weekend's race credit and $50 off any single fine that the winner might accrue in 2021. Not to shabby, huh. Right about now I would like for you to pretend to be watching a video. I ask that you imagine a dramatic voiceover talking about perseverance, sacrifice, and dedication to racing through the craziest year most people can remember, perhaps with some slow-motion b-roll footage of people getting geared up. Maybe a time lapse sunrise sequence? Not sure about that part exactly. Anyway, pretend that about two minutes into the video it switches to me interviewing people that may or may not have had a chance at winning the Covid Cup. Now there are some epic on-bike and trackside footage combined to make you itchy for the racetrack. After a few minutes of that, I announce the winner by showing you a a shot of them tearing up with joy, they give a speech, and that shot fades to black as credits roll.
I might still make that video. but until then, I present Covid Cup Champion Valentine Welch.
Congrats, Valentine. Thank you for being an example of positivity and dedication in a time where it is really easy to just write off humanity, shut the laptop, and play Borderlands until dawn.
About the Author: While Max Klein is the SF Chapter Director for the AFM, he lacks the skills, desire, or endurance to race professionally, and he really wants to see another American in MotoGP. He trusts that those who are on the path to professional motorcycle racing will get their licenses through the required steps in whatever series they choose to pursue, and will be cheering on those pros no matter what club gave them their start. These are also his opinions, and do not necessarily reflect those of the AFM