Bombs, poison and WTF: Rossi’s Misano helmet

Dailies, Galleries -


Rossi hasn’t released an official statement saying whether or not he’ll be racing at Motegi, but his Misano helmet tells us a lot about what’s on his mind. The infographic in the speech bubble shows a cartoon skull and cross-bones, starburst, lightening, tornado, thunder-cloud, bomb and finally, !?!. A radioactive drop-shadow sets the context.

What does it mean? Danger and confusion with radioactive over-tones clearly point to the continuing controversy surrounding the race at Motegi. In our article about Good Spark Garage’s Motegi mask, commenters argued over whether or not Motegi is dangerous. Facts say that the nuclear plant, located approximately 100 miles from the racetrack, suffered three level 7 meltdowns and one level 3 meltdown to its reactors. There are critics who claim that Rossi will get a bigger dose of radiation in the process of commercial flight than he would competing at the track, but at this point no one is really sure.

The design also likely reflects Rossi’s frustration with this season’s poor performance too. Alex Briggs tweeted that a rough translation for the design would be “WTF?”

Rossi won’t be winning a championship either way, so his decision will have little effect on MotoGP season results, but it may influence other riders as well. The lurid yellow and green that are normal colors for Rossi take on an entirely new meaning as he shares his inner, unstated mindset yet again. This, and the rider’s other helmets, are an excellent illustration of the power of art. He’s unable or unwilling to express himself in words, but Valentino’s thoughts are conveyed loud and clear on his helmet every other weekend during the summer.

  • Brant

    How could no one know for sure? It’s a really simple process to monitor for acute and cumulative radiation doses.

    • Wes Siler

      There’s argument over the health effects of said known radiation exposure though.

      • Mr.Furious

        The report below claims that the average gamma dose would be in the neighborhood of 24 microsieverts. A dental x-ray could result in a dose anywhere from 30-9000 microsieverts. The study seems pretty comprehensive given the tools and data available.

        Confusion reigns when it comes to the cumulative effects of exposure. It’s very difficult to separate causality from correlation at the best of times. The predicted doses are, however, extremely small.

      • jpenney

        This is informative:

  • Thom

    Personally I don’t blame Rossi one bit for not wanting to race at Motegi

    Fact is the only thing known for sure about the levels and dangers of the Radiation there is that the Japanese Government IS NOT being honest or forthcoming with any of the facts , keeping far too much info from being available to the general public , as well as any Foreign Governments and Agencies .

    With that being the only reliable information available at this point I sure as Hell wouldn’t be going .

    • T Diver

      True, but people who ride motorcycles are supposed to be badasses, who “don’t give a fuck.” With that in mind one may purpose that he “scrot up.”

      • Scott-jay

        “supposed to be” doesn’t compute with “don’t give a fuck”, T.

      • The other Joe

        Keep in mind that many of them don’t ride at all outside of their jobs.

    • dux

      I’ve been following the whole debacle, and I agree wholeheartedly. Keep me 100K’s or further from that nuclear inferno, thank you!

    • dux

      When I mean ‘debacle’, I mean the Fukushima et al meltdowns, not the Motegi race.

  • gregorbean

    Sure, but what does PORC, stars, swirly, bomb, gun, asterisk, !!! mean?

    • gregorbean

      Strange, that’s not the original link I posted, but I guess you get the point…

  • The other Joe

    They’re a bunch of Pussies!

    There is a lot that is known for sure, like radiation levels have been tested, not by the Japanese Government , but by an independent firm hired by the FIM to determine if it is safe to continue with plans to race there.

    What is also known (for half a century, in fact) is the health effects of said known radiation exposure.

    Read this:

    And this:

    I would have absolutely no problem with going there, and taking my family with me as well.

    • Gene

      Me neither. Plus there’s the hypocrisy of “We luv ya Japan” on the bikes, yet they’re afraid to spend a whole 3 days there.

      Personally, I hope anyone that doesn’t go loses points big-time.

      • The other Joe


        • raphmay

          Agreed, “We luv ya Japan” but don’t come near me I might catch something.
          What Japan needs is something to take their minds off the devastation that has happened. I’m pretty sure Rossi has done more damage to his body, flipping, sliding, smashing and crashing himself off bikes in the past than 3-days in Japan will do him….

  • wascostreet

    I find it a bit incongruous to see motorcycle racers taking risk assessment so seriously in this one way. What’s a few extra microsieverts when you go 300+ km/h on a regular basis?

    • The other Joe

      Yes, that also!

  • mugget

    That’s an awesome helmet design. I wonder when the AGV replicas will come…

    Also it’s one thing for a person to ride at 300KM/h+ where they know the risks and make the decision themselves, and another thing entirely to maybe/maybe not be exposed to radiation that no one knows the long term effects of.

    Personally I am going to Japan next Jan/Feb and I would visit Motegi without any hesitation, but staying there for any length I can see how the riders would be apprehensive. Like Rossi has said, the problem for him is not the radiation level (or lack of) at Motegi, but the fact that the nuclear reactors at the powerplant are still not stable and there are still aftershocks. And if there was another earthquake now… that’s quite a scary prospect, don’t you think?

    • Mr.Paynter

      A completely wiped out MotoGP field!? Scasry as all hell for us, a dream for younger riders looking to move up!

      • The other Joe

        Go Bautista!

  • Dani Peral

    Thats a great commuter design…hi-viz yellow, plus an easy way to tell car drivers what you think about them…just use your horn while pointing at the top of your helmet: They’ll get it :D

    • Roman

      Yeah, I kind of want it!

  • jbutton

    I was happily in Tokyo in June. Every local I met thanked me for visiting after the quake. They want normal life to go on and appreciated a visitor showing confidence in the place.The risk is minute. The riders should go.

  • Scott-jay

    Some Arab Spring in helmet’s bomb and ?? icons?
    Rossi and Hayden looked so damn slow at Indy. Heart-breaking, if not for racin’ up front.
    Next year…

  • robotribe

    I don’t think the artwork is about Misano at all; he’s visualizing the frustration he feels for the shit bike (for him, maybe Casey as well) he’s committed to flogging around in mid-pack this entire season:

    Lightning cloud = May lighting strike this GP11 and burn it to a crisp!

    Bomb = GP11, please explode into a million little pieces, but wait till I’ve gotten off.

    Tornado = These goddamn Hondas are tossing the rest of us around like cows.

    Skull & crossbones = My 2011 season was dead from the start.

    !?! = Why, why, WHY did I leave Yamaha for this crap?!?!

    • The other Joe

      Nice perspective.

    • mugget

      Hah – nice.

  • Gene

    Slightly off topic, are Ducati really thinking about an aluminum chassis? Have you guys heard anything other than floaty rumors?

    On one hand, it sucks to see Rossi at the back of the pack. On the other hand, new stuff does suck for racing until it’s developed, which is why we don’t see forkless front ends and stuff like that.

  • david folch

    not the most funny site :
    but here you are.
    I wonder why nobody mentioned japanese people who are dying and will die soon because of this tragedy.
    Spending 3 days for racers isn’t a big deal.
    Japanese people who’ll die there is the big deal.

  • Gene

    To quote a friend of mine at Fermi-labs:

    “This would be like MotoGP riding Harleys & Indians, and wearing ‘We [heart] FDNY’ caps and ‘Ground Zero’ t-shirts, but then refusing to ride at Indy because they were afraid of Al-Qaeda assassinating them. Can you imagine the sh*tstorm of ‘get those quiche-eating pussy muthafuggas off our bikes’? It’s the same level of danger”

    • HammSammich


  • HammSammich

    It’s not quite in the same context, but in her book, “The Ultimate Terrorists” Jessica Stern, PHD, briefly discusses how humans are terrible at assessing risk when it has anything to with “poisoning,” including exposure to radiation. She discusses this in the context of terrorists using WMD’s but I think it still applies. The radiation in Japan is being monitored by numerous groups, governments and private entities, and in this case the danger just isn’t there. On a daily basis, all of us do things that are far more dangerous than going to Motegi (and at least speaking for myself, I’m not even a professional racer).

    Ultimately, I don’t fault Rossi or anyone else for having this irrational fear, but I have a hard time sympathizing with it, because A) they are being paid so much precisely because their “job” is riskier than most, B) They race in a series that likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Japanese motorcycle industry, and C) it smacks of hypocrisy when they express solidarity with the Japanese, but can’t be bothered to be there with them for a weekend race.

  • Jason

    I raced at Ebisu in Fukushima last month. And to prove a point my videogrpaher brought a geiger meter..all was good! We were 60KMS from the site.

    And I know Rossi has received more msv’s from all the xrays, flying, and cellphones in his life than 3 days at Motegi would cause. I live in Tokyo and am not considering nor have I to become a “flyjin”.