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MD Reader Responses: Why Did Ricky Carmichael Get Booed in Vegas?

Somewhat to our surprise, our readers had some very strong feelings about Ricky Carmichael’s “defection” from Kawasaki. Personally, I think Ricky has a right to ride for any team he chooses, and to be paid as much money as he can negotiate. Remember free enterprise? At the same time, Kawasaki has a great amateur program in Team Green, and Ricky was brought along by Kawasaki with the right amount of support and nurturing. Kawasaki deserves much credit, and, perhaps, some of Ricky’s comments after switching teams seem a little callous to the fans who are so used to seeing Ricky on a green bike.

My limited information about what happened at Vegas (I was not there) indicates that a decidedly pro-McGrath crowd may have contributed to some of the booing. We’ll just have to see how Ricky is received in January when the Supercross series begins. That is a very different crowd from the hard-core Vegas group.

In any event, have a look at our readers’ responses (unedited, of course) below:

  • Honda’s new superstar was bought and paid for. Some people hate
    to see the defection…

  • Because he left Kawasaki,the smallest Japanese manufacturer. They were the ones who brought him up thru the ranks. They supplied him with competitive machines which he had sucess with and he repays them by selling out to deep pockets Honda.He is seen as unloyal & possibly even greedy!

  • Die hard Kawasaki fans thought he went for the money and left Kawasaki high and dry. Plus it seems most other manufacturer faithfuls look at Honda as this big bully that wins races based on their bottomless pit of money… basically, a bunch of whiners who can’t handly it when a superior product kicks their asses. Honda didn’t get this big by building crap, bottom line and they can’t handle it. Boo-hoo.

  • Because people are not happy that he switched from Kawasaki to Honda , Kawasaki helped him from the begining . Honda has been trying to buy a champion for awhile Kevin W. from Yamaha,Ezra from Yamaha, people are sick of them. They have more money to offer why don’t they spend it farming riders instead of stealing them . I guess they will go after James Stewart next.

  • No I wasn’t there at Vegas. But if I was, I would of been booing. Why?
    Cause to me, Ricky seems like a traitor. Last year he was my favorite
    rider, this year though, he’s last. He’s been with Kawasaki since the
    mini’s. And Kawasaki has been there for him. He finally reaches the
    pinnacle of Supercross and Motocross racing. Then he bails on Kawasaki and
    goes to Honda. To me it’s like a slap in the face to Kawasaki. “OK, I’ve
    reached the top now, I no longer need you!” Plus now he can get any salary
    he wants from Honda. Seems greedy to me. What ever happened to loyalty??
    Or appreciating and being thankful to those who have helped you succeed??
    You don’t see that much nowadays. That’s sad. Really sad. There’s more
    to life than money. Maybe there’s more to this than I know, I don’t know
    Ricky personally. But I’m entitled to my opinion and this is where I
    stand. You’ll see me in the booing section.

  • Why did Ricky get booed in Vegas? What’s to investigate? Fans are having trouble identifying with
    a motorcyclist and a manufacturer who make decisions based on sound business economics. Mr. Charmichel
    rides Red because the pay more; Honda pays more because they want their bikes in the winner’s circle.
    The lack of brand/rider loyalty may upset fans, but at that level of the sport, business is business.

  • Carmicael has no loyalty. Honda nas no intregrity. A big boo to them both and I hope they both fail.

  • I believe RC was booed because he did what most superstar athletes do, he went to the team that paid him the highest amount of money. I am one person who hopes he doesn’t win a title this year.

  • In my humble opinion , RC was booed because of attitude. His comment about he deserves Honda and Honda deserves him, comes off to arrogent as do alot of his commernts. He is a great talent no , but his personallity is his short coming. MC and RJ were cocky, but it was never over the top.
    Comments like “I set the standard”, while true, just don’t sound right … blowing your own horn seldom makes you popular. As a long time fan of motocross, 32 years, I hope MC comes back and kicks his butt in supercross and Windham takes the outdoor crown. Humility is what RC needs a big dose of. Thanks for listening

  • Why did RC get booed?

    Maybe he got booed because they view him as a sellout to Honda. The see him as
    a money hungry unfaithful Kawi rider. Thats odd. Last I checked no one likes
    Kawi anyway.

    Maybe they are tired of him winning. No, thats not it. If that were the case
    then they would have booed McGrath years ago.

    Maybe they think he is cocky. Everyone who wins lots of races has a hint of
    arrogance about them.

    I don’t get it. RC on a red bike is the best thing since the invention of the
    internal combustion engine. He won. He should not have been booed.

    The crowd at the Open is a little different than your usual SX crowd. They are
    “industry” insiders and hard core fans. They may be more opinionated than most.

  • This is just my reason for being a little less of a Carmicheal fan…I don’t know if I would have boo’ed him if were there…but whose to say.

    I have watched and participated in motorcycle racing (Regional CCS and WERA roadracing events) for many years. I have watched the riders of today become like an NFL player…Go where the money is… I know Carmicheal is probably the best rider out there but Kawasaki busted their hump also to get him to the championship and all his wins. Few if any real mistakes happened in his pits last year, even a club racer knows how important that is. There is no loyalty in today’s athletes and that now includes motorcycle racers.

    Carmicheal has to worry about himself also…that is where maybe I would have joined in the boo’ing…not so much as at Carmicheal but most of it at Honda. They throw more money at it than anyone…the old “if you can’t beat it buy it theory”. Can we really blame Carmicheal? I have also recently seen in AMA Roardracing Honda went and got Al Ludington to tune for Miguel DuHamel. This is the guy that was (once again) with Kawasaki. He took what is the oldest bike in the pit and competed for the AMA Superbike title (with a little help from Eric Bostrom). Al was previously with Honda…How did they let him get away the first time?

    I will be honest I am not a Honda fan (although they make great bikes). But maybe some of the boo was meant for Brand “H”

  • I didn’t get a chance to see the race yet, but many maybe think he’s a
    traitor. I mean, he had a really good team and ride. He also would get
    anything he wants. So why leave Kawasaki? He had it made. Is everything
    these days about money. What about the love for the sport? Does this do not
    count anymore. Honda was selling bikes, and making headway on the tracks.
    This is just my opinion.

  • Were all the fans booing Ricky wearing green? Inquiring minds want to

  • He got booed because Kawasaki has been supporting him since he was almost a baby! After all the years of supporting him, you would think
    that there should be a little loyalty here. How rich is rich, i guess ricky needs more money? Everything is about money now-a-days not
    loyalty. I think all the Kawasaki fans feel that he jumped ship. It doesn’t matter what bike he is on, it’s the rider not the bike!

  • In my opinion, for leaving Kawasaki. I want to see him on a green machine again!

  • I’d think he was boo’d for switching to Honda (for the money) after a career
    with Kawasaki. Of course you can’t blame him for going for the money but
    there is something about it that seems just isn’t right.

  • carmichael get bood because he sold out to the honda cheque book. Honda has been buying riders left right and center to try and buy a title. What happened to some support like carmichael got when he was growing up? Kawi was there, Honda ?? Just like when Wayne gretzki left the edmonton oilers to get the big bucks from the usa teams, ya i am canadian and bitter about the amount of money that the usa teams have to throw around. But the piont is when honda treated mcgrath with such a “honda is great attitued and you won’t leave cause we have the best of everything”, it convinced me not to ride a honda more than having mcgrath on a yamaha, i ride a yamaha 250f. So that is why carmichael got booed.

  • I would say loyalty vs money. It is simple people feel he should have been loyal to Kawasaki after all the time and money they spemt on him as a rider. However these are the same people that would run naked down the street for any amount of money offered to them. Ricky has said, like any new employee would, he didn’t do it for the money. He felt that honda had the same diredtion as him for the future. I say who cares he is the best rider on the planet, besides Mcgrath, and he should do whatever he feels is right for him.

  • My take on the whole situation is that of “Loyalty” and the Future of
    amateur programs. Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki, and KTM all have programs for
    amateur racers to help create the stars of tomorrow. Honda has long since
    abandoned the amateur racers and are benefiting from the aforementioned
    programs, essentially “Buying” the #1 Plate and rider. Yes it is true that
    money talks and this is where “Loyalty” comes in. You would think that Ricky
    would have some loyalty to Kawasaki since they are the ones who brought him
    to this stage. Some may argue that he would of gotten here anyway, but not
    on Hondas bikes, and only if someone saw in him what Kawasaki saw. Just my
    two cents.

  • I don’t know what everyone else was booing about, but we were booing at Ricky and Honda because
    Honda seems to only be able to win by buying the talent (riders and technicians/crew included) to
    do so, instead of creating superior product. Do you remember when Honda bought Foggy in WSBK (the
    RC45 was a piece of junk at the time)? Or what if Honda had bought McGrath and Carmichael? That
    would be a nasty 1-2 finish come season end. If I remember correctly, Honda’s last true title run
    was with McGrath aboard. See how Honda bought Rossi from Aprilia? Honda sucks.

  • I was not at the race, but being a huge fan, I can sure tell you that I am
    not surprised to read about the reactions to the “new RC”. After reading the press releases that came out when the silly season
    started, I really felt like RC had thrown Kawasaki under the bus. As far as I can tell, team green has been pretty good to RC during the past DECADE or
    so. I still respect Ricky, but I really feel that he has “turned to the dark
    side” so to speak. My 2 cents, Jason
    ps – GO Tim Ferry !!!

  • I was not at the US Open in Las Vegas, but I can name two reasons why the
    fans would boo Ricky Carmichael.

    1. The “Jeff Gordon syndrome” Race fans have been known to boo racers
    that dominate their sport.

    2. Ricky is the latest in a series of champions that won their number one
    plate, and then jumped to Honda.

  • I think I know why he was booed…………………….. he basically
    dumped Kawasaki for big $$$$$$ who basically put him on the map in the
    first place. I know I know …everyone needs more $$$$ , But I am a
    loyal Kaw guy for over 27 years .

  • It seemed that everyone wasn’t happy with the recent bike change Carmichael made. The people sitting around me were saying things like “I
    can’t believe he left Kawi”. Which to me seems stupid to say. When you take a look at any other rider, you will find that they have ridden for
    at least a couple of different teams. In my opinion, Carmichael is number 1 because he’s committed to
    winning, not because he rides a certain bike.

  • They are Jeremy MGrath (sp.) fans!

  • I wasn’t at Vegas but I heard he got booed because he went for the money with Honda.

  • My guess is that he was booed by Kawasaki fans who view him as a traitor or opportunist. He was “weaned” in the Team Green program and, once he hit the big time by becoming both supercross and national champion, he moved on to “greener pastures” and the ultimate (at least in my opinion as I am a CR 250 rider) manufacturer.

  • Love your site by the way…While watching the Open from the stands I
    overheard several conversations at different times and on both nights. The
    main theme seemed to be the switch from Kawi to Honda. I think most people
    think of the switch only in terms of money and greed rather than career
    planning or what is best long term for a rider.

    Another thing to think about is,everybody loves a dominating performer….at
    first. MCreceived his fair share of booing while he was on top as I’m sure
    you will remember. Maybe Ricky has been winning too much???

  • First of, I am a die hard honda fan. I have been riding hondas for 18 years now. And even though carmichel coming to honda is gonna bring the number one plate (regardles if it says #4) and many more to come I am still upset to the fact that he left kawi (whom he was with since birth) for money. One of the good things about motorcross is it never had over inflated salaries and riders stuck with there teams for the most part. But now its no longer pure and we will soon be like basketball and baseball with all these hi price athletes who make way to much money

  • I am pretty sure what was being booed was the fact that Honda is again
    using big money to “buy” the championship. A lot of people feel that a
    rider should be loyal to the brand that stood behind them to bring them
    to the top. Ricky was a Team Green rider for a long time.

    Honda has attempted to do this quite a few times in the last few
    years, hiring Pichon, Windham, and Tortelli away from rides where they
    were contracted. ( Remember the controversy around Windhams’ deal.)
    They also kind of stole Lusk from Yamaha, even though he wasn’t under
    contract. In years past Honda has had huge rewards from these tactics.
    Many championships were won by hiring Yamaha supported riders Rick
    Johnson, and Jeff Stanton. Both were Yamaha privateers for many years
    before their factory rides.

    It hasn’t been as easy as just hiring the other teams riders, since the
    aluminum frame bikes have come out though.

    I for one hope Ricky doesn’t win either title nest year, it will be
    catastrophic event for Honda if he doesn’t win next year. I hope they
    enjoy the #1 plates Kawasaki earned while they can. I looking for
    McGrath and others to be ready hurry up 2002!!!

  • I wasn’t in Vegas to hear the booing, but if I was I would have booed too.
    This is only because I’m a Kawasaki guy and still hold disappointment for
    him leaving the organization that sponsored him for so many years.
    Everyone’s got to do what’s best for them though. He made his choice. My
    choice is to boo.

  • I don’t know the specific reason RC may have been booed at LV although
    it’s been coming (personally I’m not a booer). His fondness for brake
    checking is renowned. He’s not picky though, he did it to Jeremy
    indoors and he will do it to any flunky he may be lapping. The reason
    for it is not discernible.

    Another reason may be his reluctance to race if there is a chance he may
    be beat. The rumors from the American mechanics that still showed up at
    the Des Nations, were he didn’t want to get stomped into the sand of
    Namur by Everts. J Robert suggested, facetiously, that his mommy
    wouldn’t let him go. There was a lot of support for our problems
    stemming from 9/11 but none for our team not showing.
    Opinionatedly yours

  • From what I can tell Vegas crowds are pretty much from California. That
    said, I would like to quote from Cycle News. In many if their publications
    it said, ” We don’t care how the hell they do it in California”

  • My guess would be that he was booed for the lame way that he ‘broke’ the record for the most 125 wins at the end of the outdoor season. He didn’t win the race with his ability, it was given to him by Mike Brown, who only was ahead becuase Langston had mechanical problems. It certainly compromised his integrity in my book.

  • I was there and this was my impression. Though it could have been
    because of his exodus from Kawasaki to Honda, I was more under the
    impression that it was the McGrath fans that were booing him. There
    seamed to be a lot of them there. Ricky still received a large amount
    of applause, but the booing would start when it got a little silent
    during interviews. I find it funny that he is booed when in fact it was
    McGrath who was completely out of line Saturday night when he went on
    top of the victory jump after the heat race along side of Larocco, the
    heat winner. And then proceeded to whine about being bumped around and
    not having any luck this weekend. I for one was booing him for that but
    was of the minority. McGrath always won with class, but I have found at
    times time to come off like a spoiled brat when things don’t go his way.
    I use to be a McGrath fan, but no longer. Man I wish Larocco would have
    knocked his butt off that jump! Now that would have been entertaining.
    And if Ricky was being booed for jumping ship, then shame on all of you,
    because you can only compete for so long so you better make as much
    money as you can. The majority of people would do the same. I for one
    would leave my present company if another company offered me
    considerably more money for the same type of work, wouldn’t you?

    Had a great time and one more thing, wa wa wa McGrath you big baby! Grow

  • Well, I think a couple of things are adding up here. First of all he’s leaving a team he’s been very successful with and bolting to Honda for more money. He’s bad mouthing the Kawasaki’s and saying the Honda’s are better. Those Kawasaki’s can’t be that bad the way he’s racked up national championships on them. So it kind of makes him look like he’s Honda’s puppet now. Also, when McGrath was winning so much he was getting booed too. I think allot of fans don’t like to see a really dominant rider, but would much rather see two or three riders duke it out the way the 125 nationals were this year.

  • Ricky got booed because he’s considered a traitor in many peoples eyes. He got booed for riding a Honda. Honda doesn’t bring riders up through the mini ranks like Kawi and Suzuki. Honda bribes the people who are winning with money. They dont create champions, they go out and buy them. Ricky was a long time Kawi rider and many people, including me thought he would be like Wardy. Brand Loyal to the bitter end. Ricky has shown the world that, loyalty means nothing to him and we all should have realized that when he didn’t fulfill his Thor obligations in 1999 with team Splitfire Kawasaki. Thay is why Ricky got booed, and that is why ricky will always get booed.

  • ricky carmichael got booed because he has grown up all his life on kawasaki and kawasaki have helped him to the top. now honda have him beacuse honda have more money. i think that was why people booed. ricky belongs on a kawasaki.

  • Fans aren’t a stupid lot. Fans are made up by people. You and me, that is. Hondas new sensation in MX is’nt Hondas at all. It’s Kawasakis and everyone living knows it.
    When Ricky swallowed the moneypop, it was an end of a dream. He’d been the only successful & famous single brand rider through nowadays fans memory. Reaching as far back as reading of his acceivements at Loretta Lynns in 92-93. Loyalty is a dream that most people carry, but no one in real life is doing. From the baby sitter, to GEO’s that run away from the future that you invested in.
    At my age of 41, I really recognise great riders, but. To me: Macrath is a Honda guy that got grey fewer. Skirts come in all shapes.
    It’ll take a lot of winning for Rycky to become a Honda guy.

  • From the other side of the ocean, I see two reasons:

    1. Ricky should have stayed with kawasaki out of loyalty; they helped him
    tot the top.

    2. Maybe more important: they boeed Honda, because they don’t like it when
    money buys it all (with kawa more being an underdog).

  • A recent editorial in Cycle News might give you some insight…in Vegas you can gamble, and alot of people no doubt put their money on some longshots (everybody but Carmichael IS a long shot these days). People remember that McGrath in the past hasn’t taken the U.S. open, so it may have seemed that if there were a venue where an underdog could win, then this is IT!


    So perhaps the people were booing because they were loosing anywhere from a little to maybe alot of money! There were probably other factors involved though. Unfortunately, as much as I appreciate Carmichael’s talent (I don’t think it is physically possible to ride motocross faster than Carmichael can (and does) without crashing), it can be a bit boring when it’s a foregone conclusion as to who’s going to win the race…

    That’s my take on it…

  • I have done my own survey on Carmichael getting booed and offer the following thoughts:

    People feel like he is a trader and that he sold out when he went over to Honda

    He appears to be forgetting who pays his salary by the way be acts towards the public…He is demonstrating that “rock star” behaviour (this is from my personal experience during an autograph signing session with my children present)

    People would like to see anybody but Carmichael win (especially McGrath and Ferry)

    McGrath is to a true Champion. Carmichael is a winner but he will never be a true champion (lacks the attitude, personality, charisma)

  • Maybe its a repeat of the Jeff Gordon phenomenon. Jeff Gordon won many
    races and championships, and it seemed to come too easily for him. That
    made people resent him and boo him even though he’s never really done
    anything to warrant such treatment.

  • More than likely Ricky Carmichael was Booed in Vegas due to his switch to Honda. Many loyal Kawasaki fans watched Ricky grow up on the Green Machines and then when he is the undisputed #1 guy he jumped ship. In the process he stated that Honda was a better machine which I am sure really pissed off the Green Guys.

    It is unfortunate that fans act that way. Especially when Carmichael is so talented. But I don’t think he will ever enjoy the fan loyalty like MC, Travis, or even Doug Henry. Ricky is too business like and doesn’t have the rapport with the public like the others. Sure he kicks ass but there is more to being a popular champion than just demonstrating skill, you need to connect with the public.

    Guys like MC, Travis, Henry, Dowd, Tortelli and a few other, have likeable personalities to go along with tremendous talent. When an athlete has that combination of skill and charisma, their fans will stick with them through almost anything. To prove it tell me if anyone booed MC when he left Honda, or when Travis dropped out of the 2001 Nationals. In-fact Travis is so popular, I bet he could switch to Gas-Gas and people would still believe he could win the championship.

    That’s just my 2 cents for what it worth.

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