The State of the Website

Gentleman who like Gentleman, and Ladies who like Ladies – the State of Queers4Gears is strong!

2011 was a banner year for Q4G.  We welcomed new contributors Ross Bynum (Indy), Cody Globig (V8 & F1) and Carla Page (NASCAR).  They share our love for racing and making people laugh….making them a perfect addition to the crew.  Troy Germain and Michael Myers pumped out the weekly podcast: “The Queers4Gears Radio Hour” – and while it wasn’t on the radio and sometimes didn’t last an hour – we appreciate you listening each week.

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Queers4Gears was profiled in two newspapers in 2011:  The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and The Las Vegas Review Journal.

One of the year’s highlights was when YOU – our readers and twitter followers donated to support Q4G founder Michael Myers in the Las Vegas AIDS Walk.  Q4G readers donated $1545.00 and that amount was matched by Penn and Teller!  Thanks to you – over $3000.00 was donated by Queers4Gears to AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada.)

Site traffic made a dramatic jump this year.  Q4G moved to a new server host – and during the transition a technician asked if we still wanted the site blocked from the bots.  We were not aware that the “bots” used by search engines to index material for your searches was being blocked from Q4G until late this year.

Once we invited the bots in…. traffic jumped from an average of 3,500 unique visitors per month to over 12,000!

In 2012 – we are adding a new podcast, Michael Myers and Hannah Rickards will be covering action off of the track this season in “Out of the Tunnel.”

Keep your eyes open for weekly recurring race commentary that we hope will keep you laughing.

See ya at the track……………

Q4G Interview: Meet Luke Lucky Huff

LukeHuff2Luke Lucky Huff is a professional motorcycle racer from a small town in Ohio. He now resides in Los Angeles with his partner and is the owner of Lucky Management helping to promote careers in motorcycle racing. Luke plans to run a full season of AMA  as well as the WERA Motorcycle Roadracing &Willow Springs Motorcycle Club. The racing season begins this coming weekend, Jan 7 & 8 at Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, CA.  Queers4Gears’ Adam Lovelace sat down to ask Luke a few questions:

Q4G: Where are you from?

LH:  I was raised in the small rural farming community of the Village of Berkey, Ohio. I attended school in the same building from preschool, kindergarten, and 1-8th grade. I went on to St. Francis de Sales High School in the city of Toldeo, Ohio (our neighboring metropolis). After graduating, I wanted to pursue my passion at the time, filming professional skateboarding (and skateboarding myself). My parents helped me find an apartment and a job in San Diego and I was on my own on the other side of the country at age 19. After less than a year I yearned for more action than the sleepy town of Ocean Beach had to offer, so I moved north to Hollywood in the year 2000. I stayed in Hollywood for about 6 years during which time I had asked my parents to help me find a used motorcycle (my parents had owned a used car dealership in Ohio since 1982). When I found the one that I felt suited me, they surprised me by paying for it as a combined x-mas/birthday present in 2004! From then on, I slowly leaned toward sport bikes and learning how to go faster and began to love sport bike racing. In 2009, I was hit on the freeway and it forced me to re-think what I was doing on a bike. I had been riding canyons aggressively and knew I should probably start going to the track where aggressive riding belongs. This was the wake up call that I needed.

Q4G:  What series do you currently race in?
LH:   I currently participate in the following race series: AMA Pro Racing, WERA West, Willow Springs Motorcycle Club (WSMC), American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM), California State Championship (CSC).

Q4G:  Did you really just start racing in 2010?
LH:   I bought a used Yamaha R6 in the summer of 2010, about a year after my accident on the street. I did a handful of trackdays in Aug/Sept. of ’10 and then picked up my novice race license that September.

Q4G:   Do you race full-time?
LH:    I would say I do race full-time in that I compete in some of the above mentioned series for their full seasons. Next year, I plan to attend the complete seasons of AMA, WERA West, WSMC, and CSC barring any conflicting dates between series. That should keep me busy from January till October in 2012.

Q4G:   How did you get started in racing?
LH:     Before I had the accident on the street, a friend of mine who had brought me under his wing to show me the ropes on how to ride a sport bike well had begun his own sport bike racing career. Jeremy Simmons had previously raced dirt bikes in his younger years and decided “why not see how far I can go with road racing motorcycles”. Due in part to that ideology and my recent accident, I thought I should adapt that idea and see if I can answer it on my own.

Q4G:   Do you follow any other racing series?
LH:    Sometimes I think I follow too many race series! haha. I’m pretty much up-to-date on the goings on in MotoGP, Moto2, 125s (soon to be Moto3), WSBK, WSS, BSB, AMA, Australian SBK, South African SBK, TT racing, TTXGP, and then there’s the 4-wheeled racing… WRC, ALMS, F1, etc.

Q4G:   Your Facebook page has a photo of you with Marco Simoncelli who was killed in October, 2011 in the Malaysian MotoGP race. How has his death affected you and/or the sport of motorcycle racing?

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Luke Huff and Marco Simoncelli

LH:   Many feel Marco’s death has put somewhat of a dark cloud on the risk involved. Just this past weekend, I had organized 2 screenings of the new MotoGP documentary, “FASTEST” with director, Mark Neale. In the documentary, Marco Simoncelli is interviewed and shown repeatedly because it was finished before his passing. Many said they find it more difficult to watch and it makes it somewhat sad to see. I find it the exact opposite. Marco clearly had a love of life and his life was centered around his love of racing. Many pictures, quotes, etc demonstrate his passion for racing and seeing him on the screen again, being shown more of his personality, and watching him race one more time just invigorates my soul and makes me want to live my life as much as he did. I had the chance to meet him very briefly when the photo was taken and he was more than happy to allow a whole crowd of fans take pictures and ask questions during an impromptu visit to his garage at Laguna Seca in 2010.

Q4G:   Not only do you race, but you also own your own management company where you represent other riders? Tell us about that and how that is going?
LH:   My entire life I’ve always held management positions in various lines of work. I always find myself somehow directed to management whether I do it consciously or not. When I had decided to go racing myself, I think I had 3 sponsors before I had my race license. My brain just can’t stop thinking like a business, so I address those issues before silly things like having a license. I had 13 sponsors on my list by the time I held a novice license for just 2 months. Many of my friends I raced against didn’t understand how I did it because most racers have the mind-set of “I go fast, then sponsors come to me”. Using this knowledge, I noticed many incredibly talented riders were struggling with obtaining sponsors and more importantly, funding. I thought to myself, I seem to have this innate ability to make the business side of anything work, so I took on one racer that was destined for greatness, Bryce Prince. As a purely voluntary effort, I wanted to help Bryce gain more sponsorship and help direct his career as he began his transition from winning multiple club racing championships to racing on the Pro level in AMA for 2012. As I started to explore what he would need and how to get him the proper funding, I realized there are a lot of people in the same situation, and none of them seem to understand the complexity of their situation. At that point, I decided to form Lucky Management where I could represent a variety of racers and hopefully enable them to go racing at the pro level. I just recently launched my new website: www.Lucky-Management.com which is a B2B website to help facilitate my goals of drawing out funding for my riders. The initial response has been wonderful and I’m in discussions with numerous companies to make this work for 2012. I’m taking a new approach to sponsorships where the companies are forming partnerships with the riders and their team managers to fulfill whatever needs the companies have specific to them. Gone are the days when a fast rider can slap a sticker on his bike and ask for a big chunk of money. Now we must be open-minded and get creative to bring those companies a better and more real return on their investment. The roles have changed and we are now given the responsibility of pleasing the needs of the partners (sponsors).

Q4G:   You are putting together a fund-raising charity race to benefit cancer research. How is that going? Do you have any details that can be released yet?LukeHuff-300x199
LH:   I can tell you the fund-raiser is a motorcycle race event which will be held at Willow Springs International Raceway after the end of the 2012 AMA Pro Racing season has ended. The beneficiary is www.CancerResearch.org. The event is tentatively scheduled for September 30th, 2012 but the exact date has not been confirmed. The idea behind the event is to bring together motorcycle racers from across the country to raise donations for cancer research and do what we know (racing) to give back to the community. I’m expecting a lot of participation from racers of many different series including, AMA, WERA, WSMC, AFM, CSC, CVMA, etc. We may even have a guest or two from outside of the US. As soon as more details are established, a website and Facebook page will be set up and the word will go out in force.

Q4G:   What are your future aspirations?
LH:    My main focus is the management company. I view that as my long-term project that I will continue to fine-tune and operate for many many years to come. Over time, I would like to build the site much larger to include partnership opportunities with racers and teams around the world in various motorsports, not just motorcycle racing. For 2012, I’m planning to run my first season of AMA Pro Supersport to further push that idea of “how far can I go in road racing?”. I would like to win a couple club racing championships as well. I will always be working for the riders I represent, even when I’m at my own race weekend. IPhone in hand and laptop open constantly doing whatever I can to improve the business and help their careers. I also just had an article written about me in the December issue of RoadRacing World magazine on pages 76 & 77.

Q4G:    Being openly gay in the series, have you had any negative reactions with competitors or the sanctioning body?
LH:    Being openly gay in racing sounds like a difficult marriage of personalities, but it’s not really. One’s sexual preference rarely comes up at the race track other than an occasional cat call or comment about women in general. Since almost every race series also has women racers that regularly beat many of the guys out there, the comments are quickly dissipated when someone makes a remark about that same girl passing them and knowing how to race a bike better. The same can be said about negative comments about gay people in general. It’s very rare I’ve ever heard anyone act or speak with a homophobic tone at the track. Even then, the person who made the comment in poor taste would usually apologize later when word gets around to them that I or someone else in the paddock is in fact gay. I don’t feel that I have any larger hurdles to clear than any other racer in the paddock and the sheer fact that your performance on the track by you alone riding your motorcycle is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to this sport. No one can claim they are faster or better. They either beat you on the track or they didn’t. Lucky for me, not many have.LukeHuffLogo

Q4G:   I see that you are engaged. Does he race, or is he involved with racing?
LH:    I put my status as “engaged” more as a joke because well, I can’t be engaged to another man in the State of California. I have been with my partner, Danny, for a few years now and he doesn’t have much interest in riding a motorcycle after dealing with my accident a couple years ago when our relationship was still new. Although it worries him to see me risk so much on the track, he knows it’s my passion and it’s not something that can be taken away. Danny is slowly accepting the idea that I’m going to be involved in racing more and more, so who knows; maybe we’ll get him on the track some day.

Seis with Troy Germain (Six Questions That Is)

This is an ongoing feature of Queers4Gears – where we interview someone from the world of motor sports and ask them six questions. This week we interview Troy Germain –  a Motorsports Broadcaster from Vermont.  Troy has been on the air for 20 years.   He currently calls races all over New England and Canada in the  ACT (American Canadian Tour) and also at the legendary Thunder Road in Vermont.   Troy is openly gay – not a common thing in the world of racing.   You can read a long form story about Troy from the Boston Edge by clicking here.

Q:    Did you ever want to be a Race Car Driver or work on Pit Crew?

troy-2A:    I have thought about it…. and a few times I have been offered to take a car out for practice and things of that nature.  I think I was more interested in it when I was younger but I never strapped into a race car – typically because I was afraid that I was going to like it too much.   My dad had a saying – that the only way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a large fortune and it will be small by the time that your done.  So I have always tried to stay on the money making side of the sport – not that I make a ton of money doing what I am doing but I am certainly not losing money every week.

Q:    Who do you look up to in the world of Motorsports broadcasting?  Who are your heroes?

A:    Obviously,  I worked elbow to elbow with Ken Squier and Dave Moody for most of my ACT career so those are two guys that I look up to a lot.   One of the biggest influences in my earlier years of announcing was a gentleman by the name of Jim Clothey who passed away a couple of years ago.  He was the announcer at the track where I started back in New Hampshire in 1991.  He based a lot of what he did off of the younger Ken Squier years and I guess I based a lot of my stuff of the Jim Clothey when he was still active in racing – so he was an early influence.   Then moving onto Thunder Road – Moody and Squier have been pretty instrumental.   And  I gotta go for the New Englanders – like Mike Joy – I look up to him as well.

Q:   Have you ever said anything on the air that you regretted after some thought?

A:   Yeah – you know – you get caught up in the moment every now and then.    I can’t remember anything specific right now but just like Moody and Squier I like to call things as they are.  Occasionally I would amplify a bad day or bad season for a competitor saying, “This is the first race out of 10 that this guy has qualified for.”  You know there is a positive way to say it and a negative way to say it and occasionally I would go on the negative side.   But (I haven’t said) nothing devastating by any means.

I remember when I was first announcing there was this guy on a local track up at Groveton – and he was absolutely horrible.   I mean… he would spin out on every single corner and by the end of the night I was making a joke of it – “ohh, surprise, surprise…. he’s around again.”   Well, the following week, this guy came up to the tower and he tried to rip me a new one.  He said it was my fault he was driving so badly.  This was a hobby stock division and this guy was screaming about his sponsors that were in the grandstands and he said because of me they are not gonna back his car.   Not because he couldn’t drive though.

Unfortunately, what I am know for on the negative side of the ACT world  is messing up on the National Anthems.  There are at least two races a year where I play something else off my iPod instead of the National Anthem.   This year it was “Bad to the Bone.”  That is the thing I work hardest not to do – but I sometimes just press the wrong thing on my iPod.  I’m like – we don’t need a cassette or a CD – because I have my iPhone and it works perfectly.  I remember to put it on airplane mode so I don’t get a call or a text while playing the anthem – but one day went I tried to switch from the Canadian to the American Nation Anthem – it went to Bad to the Bone.  Could have been worse though – could have been Eminem.

troy-1Q:   At the top level of Motorsports Broadcasting – you see a lot of retired drivers and crew chiefs.  Dave Moody always jokingly points out, when he has them on his show, that they are taking work from well trained broadcast professionals.  On the other hand – you see some guys up in the booth who have great pipes and a sports broadcasting background but they don’t know a lot about racing. With a limited number of seats in the broadcast booth –  Which is more frustrating to you as a guy trying to work his way up.

A:  That’s a very valid point.  I am glad that I am not the only one that notices that.  Broadcasting at that level is such a competitive business to begin with and to see the Andy Petrees – the Larry McReynolds – the Darrell Waltrips – ect, ect…. it’s frustrating.   It used to be just one(guy);  there was Benny Parsons or Ned Jarrett and the others were racing broadcasters.  Someone like myself or Moody who have grown up around the sport for our entire lives can definitely relate to the fans better, if not more,  than these former crew chiefs and race car drivers.  They are very knowledgeable about the sport but they can’t broadcast.

And like you said – there are some great broadcasters that know nothing about the sport.  I think of Brent Musburger.  When it comes to football – it doesn’t matter who’s playing – if Brent’s calling the game then I am going to watch – because I so much enjoy his call of the game. But there was a reason he only spent one season in NASCAR – I am sorry but there was.  Joe Buck could call baseball and football – he could probably call field hockey and soccer but racing is a totally different sport all together. Chris Myers (for example) when he started out – not so good…… but he has taken the time to grow in the sport of racing.  Over the years he has developed into a good race broadcaster….. could I do a better job…probably (laughs).

There is defiantly a middle ground that is losing out:  the people that have the broadcast experience and have the knowledge of the sport…… they can relate to the fans and make it sound a lot more intelligent than it is.  I am one of those guys – that is slowly working my way up.  You look at FOX – Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip  those are two chairs that could be filled.

Q:   Queers4Gears has gotten very little negative reaction – and you have said that generally there is a lack of attention paid to your sexual orientation in the garage.  I get many comments from gay people who are not race fans that have a hard time believing that – they just assume the world of racing would hate on openly gay people.   What would you tell those gay people to help them better understand the sport?

A:   The best thing that I can do and what I have done is take them to a race.  Because all they know is NASCAR – and to be honest -the last five to ten years……even I have a hard time sitting through that.  To ask someone that knows nothing about the sport to sit down and watch an entire cup race – that is not doing the sport (of racing) any justice.   So I will bring them to Thunder Road on a Thursday Night and I will make them pick a driver so they have someone to root for and can actually get into it.   With only one exception (an ex boyfriend) every person that I have brought to a race has wanted to go back.  It is exciting -they are rubbing fenders and spinning each other out – you can see a guy race from the back to the front in a 50 lap race.  But how exciting is it (in NASCAR) to watch 43 cars run around for 250 laps on a 1.5 mile track.  It is just not as exciting.

I agree that I get more negative feedback from the gay side than any negativity from the non-gay community.  In the garage I am just one of the guys.  I have brought boyfriends to the track and occasionally you get an odd look but that is far as it has ever gone.

Q:   In racing – who would be quicker to accept an openly gay driver…..the garage or the grandstands?

A:   That’s a good question – I might look at both sides of it.  In the garage – the person who comes out is someone that everyone already knows…… as a “person.”  And if they respect that person for who he is and what he does then they are going to accept his homosexuality.

In the grandstands all they know is the public persona of the person – they might look at it a little bit differently.  But on the flip side – there is so much gayness in mainstream society now – more so than even 5 ago……. and I think that would impact the public perception.   If a big name driver came out – who had been in the sport and was respected (by the fans) then I would hope they would be more accepting at that point.   I don’t know that’s a tough one.