From 2009: Rob Muzzy’s Special Hat

(From 2009)

Yesterday’s amazing revelation that DMG has allowed the very non-street legal Buell XB1125RR in the Superbike class, while requiring all of the other OEMs to essentially use Superstock-spec machines, machines based on street motorcycles, reminds me of a story.

About ten years ago, I collaborated with legendary Superbike man Rob Muzzy on a book, a book that unfortunately never came to fruition. The upside of that failed project is that I was able to spend a lot of time with Muzzy, who was one of my heros then and remains so today, and his late wife, Ruby. I stayed at Rob and Ruby’s house in Bend, Oregon and hung out with Muzz’ at his race shop, lived his life and became fairly intimate with his nearly uncountable number of animals—with seemingly ever-changing names—saw all his old cars, etc. I heard him tell some great stories, tales about Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Anthony Gobert and others who had ridden for him. We went to his private storage garage and dug through it, where he found a 1982 ELR that he had forgotten about, and a ton of old photos.

Rob had just built his current facility in Bend and we sat in his office for a while and talked, recorder off.

I asked him where it all started, every season, what was the very first step? Financial, logistics, contracts?

Muzzy said every year the very first step he took in preparing to race that season was that he and his team manager, Steve Johnson, and crewchief, Gary Medley, would sit down in Rob’s office, close the door and turn off the phone.

Then they would open the rulebook for that season and they would go over it, taking it apart line by line. Johnson or Medley would read a line from the rulebook, no matter how boilerplate-ish or mundane, and then they would discuss that line, in great detail, talking about how this rule affects them, what its intent was and how it may help or hinder their competitors.

This went on for hours. One of these sessions was the basis for a protest that Muzzy filed once with the AMA, one where he showed that the Ducatis ridden by Troy Corser and Pascal Picotte weren’t even models Ducati sold–anywhere. He lost that one on appeal, but it did show that Muzzy and co. had a very unique way of looking at the rule-book. Later came the whole Gobert beating Ducati’s Kocinski at Misano while using the ‘ringer carbs’. Good times. That one was lost on appeal too.

Muzzy is a great storyteller and conversationalist. To end the story, Muzzy told me that when he and his lieutenants had these rulebook sessions, he would don a special hat.

What? Muzzy had then and has now the hair of a nineteen-year old, so I found the image of him wearing a hat, indoors, to be a little odd. “I’ve never seen you in a hat in my life,” I told Muzzy skeptically.

“Oh, it’s my special rulebook hat,” Muzzy countered, and he turned around and pulled it off a shelf behind his desk. He put it on and spun around in his desk chair so that he was facing me.

His grin while wearing the hat seemed as big as the moon.

The hat was actually a pair of plastic Mickey-Mouse ears that Muzzy had sourced from DisneyLand. To complete his “Rulebook Hat” he had placed an AMA decal over the Disney logo.

He refused to let me take a picture of him wearing it.

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