Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1979 02 28

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 47 of 47

, ; • ~ II E O"l t' O"l ~ 00 CN ~ ~ ~ s-. .0 Q.) ~ By Gary Van Voo~his The white box van rolling down the street toward the pit area at the H ouston Astrodo me sport ed huge block letters spe lling out A R M Y. M ike Kidd had arrived . In a sense it was a dual arrioalfor th e vete ran ofseven seasons on th e AMA Grand National Championship circuit . It marked Kidd's first major sponsorship sin ce 1974 when he was a m ember of the Triumph. facto ry team. It also marked th e end . of a year offrustrat ion and silence in which Kidd could only say his sponsor was "t o be announced" sometime soon. Th e 1978 season came and went without th e announcem ent , although Kidd ke pt up his enthusias m >at least outwardly - right do wn to thelast Na tional, Mik e Kidd has always been on th e edge, st raddling th efine line that sepa rat es the cha m pionship contende rs f rom th ose that are m erely very good. A board strong machin ery, L e t hat of M ert Launoill's in 1977, he was always a contender, but th ose ik times in seven seasons have been f ew and far betw een, Of his six career National victo ries. three came in that '77 season . Injuries have also shadowed Kidd and always at th e most ino pp ort une time. But he has always bounced back. Guts, a belief in hims elf and his ab ility, and a never· say·die att itude are. Kidd 's strong tra its. Some rid ers spend a Lifetime wait ing, wishing and hopingfor that so called pot of gold at th e en d of t he rainbow to come to th em . Others, lik e Kidd, set out in search ofit. Although many will refer to th e Army · in actuality t he U.S. A rmy R ecruiting Command · as Kidd's sponsor, in the strict sense it isn't . Th ey are pur chasing advertising space on his leathers, his oon, his he lmet and his bikes. "I am no t endorsing a product, " said Kidd. "I am work ing unt ]: Army recruiting -to help them prom ote th e A rmy. 1 am affiliat ed wit h t he A rmy, not spo nsored by t hem . Wha t it boils down to is a choice of words . " - The fo llowing conversation t ook p lace in a motorhome pa rked beside Kid d 's pit area at the H ouston Astrodome. Far f rom being overlooked as just an oth er racer as he once was, Kidd was now t he center of attention . Th ere were p eop le from t he Army 's agency; N . W . Ayer, to hand out pr ess pack ets, Army recruiting personnel setting up times when Kid d would be in th eir booth at t he trade sho w next door, plus curious enthusiasts and others racersj ust chec king things out. Far from being swept off his fee t by all th e hustle and att ent ion , Kidd was handling everything wit h ease. H owever, he did admit to a f ew butterflies in his stomach caused by his concern about making a goo d showing in that weekend's races. Although he did not make eit her th e TT or Sh ort Track Na tional, Kidd was satisf ied with his performance. "Most of th e p eople f rom the ag ency and t he A rmy had neve r seen racing before and were really ent huse d. 1 wish I had made the N ationa ls to really ge t off to a goo d sta rt , but that is the way it goes , I was close all night. 1 can 't uai! fo r Sacrem ent o, " t's been a long hard climb. Ihonestly my eighthLdeserveand This is season I feel that the Army sponsorship. Things are finally starting to go my way." "Of course it did take quite awhile for the ball to finall y get roll ing. But like an y big com pa ny or corporation, the go ahead for m y affiliation with the Recruiting Command had to go through all th e pro pe r chan nels . " I guess I was just in the right place at the right time . I had approached other companies like Pepsi- Cola and • T a ndy Corporat ion with spo nsorship pro posal s, but th ey di d n' t kn ow enoug h about the sport to want to make a commitment. "Since I kn ew th a t the Army had some invol vement .with th e Two-Day ISDT Qualifiers at Fort Hood , Texas , I decid ed to see wha t they would say about AMA Grand Na tional Cham pionship type racing. I took my press kit to Fort Hood an d ta lked wit h them . They put me in to uch with an Army officer in Ch icago who was in charge of sports programming and he told me that I should -oonracr the Army's (recruiting) advertising agency in New York City . "T he agency replied that they were interested in the Winston ' Pro Series and the exposure it was getting. I was told that they felt that I would be a good candidate to carry the Army af- "What I'm doing is promoting the image of the A rmy and myself. But at the same time, I believe I am also promoting the image of motorcycling. " filiation :' It seems tha t the agency had already cheeked out th e series and the AMA and had decided that Grand National Championship ra cing would be a good medium by which to carry the Army's message to th e 16 to 26 year-old age group. " It. was definitely a stroke of luck. For once I was in the right place at "the right time with the right program. However, after the in it ial approval, the plans hit a snag withi n the channels which had final approva l. I don 't know what the prob lem was reall y because they never .d id expl ain it thoroughl y. Whatever it was, it too k a long time to iron it out because the original sponsorship pla n was for t he , 1978 season . "In all , it took just a few .d ays less than a yea r to sign on the dott ed line . negotiations began on Decem ber 15. 1977 , a nd wer e fin alized on Decem ber 10 last year. I' m ha ppy, even th ough it d id tak e a lot longer tha n a ny of us had a nt icipated. "The Army isn't really sponsoring me. The Ar my, throug h its , agency , has purchased ad vertis ing space on my leathers, helmet , bik es and van. W ha t' I'm doi ng is promo ting the Arm y an d myself, but at th e same tim e I believe I am . also promot ing the imag . of motorcycling. I believe we have come a long way to d ispel the black leather jacket image of the '50's and I believe the Army is in the program because we are a professional sport that appeals to . a large audience. " I'll be making appearances for the Army at events as well as tallting with the media. In addition, the agency has begun to set u p dates for me to speak a t high schools . We will also be setting up displays of my b1kes in shopping centers and ot her places prior to race dates to get as much exposure as possible. The spo nsoship package is for all dirt track Nationals and selected non-Nation als . "Our sport should . enjoy a whole new realm of non-industry media exposure since the basic job of the agency is to get the word ou t . For example, when I signed on , the agency had the release sent to the wire services, major magazines like Tim e, Sports Illustrated and others, and to sports ed itors at major newspapers t h roughou t the U.S." For Kid d , the wait for t he paper work and a pproval of his Army spon· sorship to go through channels seemed like an eternity. T he '78 season turned int o a losing proposition because he did n' t want to ap proa ch other poten tial sponsors with Army approval just arou nd the corn er. T he hard . tim es, Kidd knew..were just a test. "Mike Kidd has been overlooked all these years. " "I lost $14,000 last year. But when _ you know tha t somethi ng big is going to br eak for you, the n you hang in the re . I knew once I had th e spo n· sorship I coul d get a head again ; no t on ly start making money, b u t start winning ra ces. I think that if you put your mind to winning races that the money will follow . " We had to tigh ten u p around the hou se last season and scrimp quite a • bit. Fortunately, .I've _~ot my family 15

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