‘You’re not only living like a rock star, you’re sponsored by one.
Trendy people want selfies with you.
An army of well-wishers and autograph hounds waits outside your pit box.
Luscious umbrella girls cling to you race day.
Your British road races are televised in sports bars and pubs.
Can anyone stop you?
James Rispoli with the late Keith Flint, lead singer of the band Prodigy, who sponsored British Superbike teams [Roadracing World]

Suddenly the music is over.
You gave it your all, every race, every lap.
The Brits loved your brash American persona and flashy riding.
Podiums and popularity weren’t enough.
Promises made in the dark hung you.
Too late to grab another seat.
You found yourself back in America, reflecting.
“Zero funding puts you in true mode.”
Reality became a beater van and a ‘leased to own’ 450 single.
You bet on yourself knowing the play is different when your chips are on the table.
It’s back to where it all began.
Still chasing and racing, all for passion.

James Rispoli in the British Superbike series. [Roadracing World]
James Rispoli was groomed for racing.
His father had him on the flat track by age 6,
Winning pro level road races at 16.
The first of two back to back AMA Pro SuperSport National Championships by 20.
Along the climb came two Bonneville speed records and a Wildcard ride in Moto2.

Somewhere under the rainbow…Rispoli celebrating a podium position at Meadowlands. [Steve Koletar]
At 23, James headed off to the British Superbike Championship, sponsored by ‘The Prodigy.’
Solid results followed despite tough local racers, living in a new country, learning new tracks.
The politics of racing can be cruel, and lack of a ride doesn’t mean lack of talent, just opportunity.
Do you need an American champion if the US market has collapsed?

James Rispoli taking air at Daytona on the ‘rent to own’ 450 single. [Steve Koletar]
Not one to give up, James headed back to America, to surf the rising tide of flat track.
The gamble was racing a Harley in the American Flat Track production class.
The bike had been there, but under you, she was up front.
Your professionalism shone through.
Working with the engineers to get the most from your electronics,
Adjusting your riding style to get the maximum from the machine.
Your off-track antics won hearts and minds.
No one could deny your fire.

Charisma at a standstill: a magic ingredient that cant be learned, only earned, or born with. [Steve Koletar]
What is it with the name James?
Bond, Hunt…Rispoli?
His charisma is immense.
Fans lost their minds when he beat his teammate by inches to put a Harley on the podium at Black Hills Half Mile during the Sturgis Rally.
He’s not a well-behaved rider who rattles off every last sponsor name.
No sir, James ran off the podium and into the crowd spraying champagne, celebrating the moment among the Harley faithful.
The season finale at ‘The Meadowlands Mile’ was even crazier.
Rispoli played it safe in qualifying due to the sketchy track conditions.
His team worried over his back-row results.
‘No worries, I’ll be up front soon,’ James smiled.
His back-row charge was electrifying, battling to the front in the opening laps brought the fans to their feet.
A solid third place finish.

What did he say? Winning hearts and minds with a few choice words. [Steve Koletar]
On the podium, his colorful comments shocked the female commentator,
But were met with thunderous applause.
There is more to being a professional racer than winning.
You must have the skills to win, but personality wins fans.

Don’t hold back. [Steve Koletar]
The fast laps are the best part.
Dreams come true when you spray champagne from the podium.
The mornings after seem empty.
It’s hard to go back to basic after being epic.
You’re forever chasing the glow of those moments.
Dealing with middle managers – the frustration and heartbreak.
Its a hard game emotionally with endless financial struggles.
We race for love, but we all gotta eat.
You know, those who can, do, those who can’t, manage or write about it.

James Rispoli telling it like it is. [Jodi Johnson]
James’ advice?
Be honest, be yourself, and don’t hold back.

 

 

Michael Lawless [@electric_horseman], our ‘Poet of Packed Earth’, is the Flat Track Editor for TheVintagent.com, and has his own blog: Electric Horseman