Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 02 18

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 58 of 59

GUEST EDITORIAL BYAL W ILLIAMS ::.~ . fte r re a din g Eric Johnson's" A View From the Fence" (Issue #47, November 26, 1997) about corp orate sponsorship of NHRA drag racing, I had to resp ond. I have been ridi ng and raci ng all typ es of motorcycles, from flat track to motocross to su percross to hare scra mbles, wi th a good measure of road bike rid ing as well. Currently, I ow n a CBR900RR, a CBR600F3 and a streetlegal XR600R. My 8-yea r-old son has a PW50, will soon be on an XR80, and so my 7-yea r-old d a u gh ter will be t h e proud ow ner of a we ll-used PW50. I'm 39 and have been rid ing for 34 of those years . This is all to say that I' m extremely pro-motorcycling. This is the view from my side of the fence. I ha ve been ra cing cars for 14 years as both an owner /driver and as a pa id driver for other team ow ners. I race an eastern D.I.R.T. Modified car (bas i- , I cally a sprint car wit h a d ifferent body) . Ou r se ries ge ts live nation wide televi• sion cove rage on Thursday nigh ts at 9 p.m. EST on Sportscha nneI. For 1998 we also have coverage on Fox Spo rts. Series sponsors includ e, but are not limi ted to, Hoosier tire s, Sunoco race fuels, Skoal, Borla and Carquest. I have just one chassis, a 1996 Bick n ell w i th a cos t of $25,000, plus $5000 in sp are parts (a necess ity). I own three eng ines a t a cost of $28,000-$34,000 each, and have a 30foot tri-axle en closed trailer at a cost of $16,000, all towed by a Chevrolet crewcab du alie. It is a costl y ope ra tion compared to what I s pen t racin g mot or cycl es, bu t low-budget compar ed to ope ra tio ns of th e peop le I race cars agai ns t On a regular basis. Pick up Circle Track or Stock Ca r Racing ma ga zines and yo u ' ll see ou r top guns such as Brett Hea rn and Jimmy Horton featured freq ue ntly. This is what it tak es to attain their level of success: Hearn has three full-time crewmen that maintain five complete cars in his 12,000-square- foot race sho p. This is just for his big-block (467 c.i.) Bud weiser car operation. His small-block (258 c.i.) Au to-Palace cars a re ma intained a t a separate facility with separa te crew and equ ip m en t. Whenever th ey arrive to race, it is in a 1997 Peterbilt tractor towing a 50-foot hydraulic-car -lift-, en tertainment-ar ea -equipped trailer . Thi s is n ot analogous to Team Kaw asak i, for ins ta nce, but just one race-car driver. A take a loo k at Nationa l a n d Worl d Championshi p-le ve l mot orcycle racers w ho have turned to car racin g but have by no means reached anywhere near the same level of do mination: Rick Joh nson , Kevi n Schwantz , Dale Quarterley and Jeff Ward. O f th ese, on ly Ward h as attained any real leve l of success. Some of the othe r a th letes w ho can attest to the d ifficulty of crossover success of car racing are Walter Pay ton , Bruce Jenner and Larry Nance. Johnson inferred that because super- ' cross is a youth-oriented sport, the pe0ple involv ed h a ve' the do llars and "sense" to spend it on merchandise endorsement. I believe this is not the case. I believe the spendable monies corne from the older generation. I don't recall seeing many local racers going to motocross races with 30-foot tr i-a xle enclosed trailers, bu t I d o recall ma ny racers' parents pulli n g in w ith 30-foot motorhomes . The y m igh t even have been wearing Reeb o ks a nd d rinking Pepsi or Budweiser. I believe tha t the bott om lin e is tha t su percross does not have a proper package to se ll to corpo ra te Ame rica. I am part of corporate Ame rica. My compa ny did $13.7 million in business last yea r. 1 employ 70 people and can afford spo nsorship. Bu t to have the option to sp end advertisi ng m one y in th e te lev ision package of s u perc ross vs. N H RA, CA RT, Wi nsto n Cu p o r m any o ther forms of au to racin g is a no-brainer. I can see Winst on Cup race s weekly on ma ny cha nnels as well as highli ghts n ightly on ESPN . Man y other form s of car racing have much better exposu re th an su pe rcross, su perbi ke and Gr and Na tio nal Dirt Tr ack racing . Is th is th e AMA's lack of promot ion ? Is thi s the promoters' lack of prom otion? Is this the riders' / teams' lack of promotion? I will apo logize in ad vanc e and by no mean s do I int end to attack an yone per- ' sona lly, but make' no mistake, corporat e America cringes at spend ing advertising m oney w it h a s p okes ma n wh o look s lik e a h ead -ba n ging , b ody-piercing , o ra nge-ha ire d , muttonchopped, goateed , non -high-school- or college-g raduate a th lete. In com pa rison to many of rid e r s in th e A MA th e supercross / mo tocross series, who fit the above d escri ption n icel y, look at Jeff Go rdon or Mark Martin in NA SCA R, When I ra ced at the Sy racuse Fair grou nds this year, there were 35 similar opera tions. Keep in min d th is is d ir t track racing - the rea lly big mo ney is in asphalt ~cing. How can th ese drivers a ttain spon so rshi p d eals to ma in tai n this level of operation? Because it is worth it to their sponsors. This is, for ins tan ce, one of the reasons I h a d such a ha r d time with John son's sta tement: "What was Reebok doi ng sponsori ng a drags te r? It was pa infu lly evident to me that the throng of spectators at Pomona was nowhere nea r as athletic, active and certainly not as young as your typical supercross crowd." , To even discuss this sponsorship wit h regard to demographics of the fans is lud icrou s. Everybody wears sneakers. Eve rybody wa tc hes television. And even if they on ly see the highlights from Pomona on ESPN, they will see Reebok, Bu d w eiser a nd Par ts A merica and develop prod uct recognition. They see the p roduct or product name, associa te it w it h so mething p ositive - a th letic exce llence, for instan ce - an d are mor e likely to buy and use the product . Quick - w ha t kind of clothing d oes Jeff Emig wear? Wh o s po nsors Rust y Wall a ce ? How d oes Jerem y McGrath make collect ph one calls? Ge t the picture? To com pa re driving a 5000-hp , 300mph nitr o-burning Top Fue l dragster to the at hleti c "commitme nt and prowess" n eeded to ru n s uperc ross, is a tota l a p p les -to-ora nges comparis on - a n d invalid. The se are completely d ifferen t d isciplines, and there is simply no correlation fr om the rider/ d river standpoint. I will not arg ue th at mot ocro ss and supercros s rid er s are not so me of th e b est-conditioned a th le tes i n th e w orl d, but to say they d eserve more corpo ra te spo nsorship than John For ce is lud icrous. Fro m the corpo ra te po int of view , I would have to say that 5000 hp a n d 300-p lus mph w ith a prim e national television package is far more viable than 50 hp , 45 mp h and a limited -a t-best television package. As far as athletic commitme n t an d pro wess, analy ze what it takes to be an NFL linebacker vs, a tournamen t-win ning mem ber of the PGA tour. H ow e ver, I d o fe el t h a t John son severely und e re st im ated th e s k ills inv olved in any type of au to racing. Just " ..-:: ..,.. ..:. ,-: '.,':~ Joe Ama to or Angelle Seeling in N HRA, Danny Sullivan or Al Unser Jr. in Indy Car. The m otorcy cl e indu s tr y a lways raves abo ut Jeremy McGrath, and w hile I've never met him, his image is not consis te n t w it h the na mes m e nt io ned above. This is n't a va lue ju dgemen t McGrath's image isn' t "wrong" per se, but ma ke no mistake asto w hose image corporate America believes in. If the industry and t h e sport of motorcycling wan t their share of corporat e sponsorship money, and I be lieve they should receive it, then the game needs to be played by corporate America's ru les. Instead of "doing your ow n th ing" or "qu estioning au thority," look at who is successful in attaining sponsorship money. You can't arrive on the scene in jeans with the seat of yo u r pants down around your knees or a Tshirt that says "Sh oo t Heroin." The money tha t the riders use d to reach the professional level they are at tod ay generally carne from loving paren ts or local dea le rs h ips. Did the r iders p lay th e game to get that money? That is to say, did they clea n their roo ms, work aro und th e house, wash Dad's truck or work ha rd at a dealersh ip ? Or did they say, ' "Bite me - I'm going to get a tattoo!" We all had to p'lay the game growing up; now it is time for the industry and riders to grow up . If it d oesn't happe n, the future of the sport is being hurt, not ex pa n de d . If you wan t corpo ra te megadollars, learn to play by the corpo rate rul es, not you rs. Being just you ng, talented an d athletic does not necessar ily equa te to being success ful and rich in th e wo rld of spo rts . You ng, tal ent ed , athletic, presentable and articula te usually d oes equa te to being su ccessful and rich. I ,b eli e v e a n d wa n t the s po r t of motorcyclin g to continue to grow, but I think Johnson's assess ment of the situation is incorrect. Motorcycling won' t see one d ollar of corp or at e sponsors hip if the op ening sta teme nt is, "It's now time for some of them (corporations) to wa ke up and smell the coffee." We - all of us in th e mot orcycl e ind us try - need to wake tip and smell the coffee. John son, you said the car peop le are starti ng to "hear the footsteps" of supercross. Right now, I think those footsteps fX are fad ing away. LOOKIN6~ACIr.:. 30 Y A SAGO... ER FEBRUARY23,1968 ary Nixon (Tri) started o ff th e AMA Grand Na tiona l Champions hip season in fine fash ion with a win a t the first" ever Ho us ton Short Track, be fo re a recor d crowd of 31,372. Dan Haaby (H- D) led most of the main eve nt · before cras hing ... Also making a classic de bu t was the first-ever Elsinore Gra nd Prix . a: teve Hurd (Kaw) was unstoppable in the 250cc Expert • ciass ... In ou r Meet !he racers section , we introdu ced you to TT racer Bob Budschat... Mike Lan e rode a Hodaka to victory in the 100cc Amateur / Expert class at the Adelan to TT Scrambles in Adelanto, Califo rnia ... To rn Muto WOn the 250cc Novice class at the Encinitas European Scra mbles, held in Enci nitas, near San Diego ... Chuck Minert was selling one of his BSA DBD34 Gold Stars in the Want Ads 'section. The sano mac hine, w hich bristled w ith all the hot-rod tricks of the day, was command ing a whopping $550! G 20 YEARS AGO... -FEBR ARY22,1978 U 10Y AR O E SAG ... FEBRUARY17,1 988 • te Latest Poop featured ' a T: lengthy news item rega rding Roger DeCoste r, w ho was seriously injured in Mo l, Belgium, w hile practicing for th e u p comi n g GP season . De Co s t e r had to undergo eme rgency surgery, at w hich time his spleen was removed... Bre nt Wa llingsford an d Scot Harden (H us) team ed up to win the Mexicali 300 by a mere 11 seconds over the tea m of Bob Balentine and Tom Kelly (KTM)... Bob Ha nna h showed us how to tackle turns and berms in part four of the " H ow to r ide like th e Hurricane" ser ies... We tes ted the Kawasaki KX250-A4, claiming it to be a "works rep lica" and also noting th at it require d a corresponding ly h ig h a mo unt of main tenance ... Be rnie Schreiber (BuD won the Expert class at the SCTA's ATA trials in Reche Canyon near Riverside, California. eff Ward (Kaw) was the man to bea t at the opening ro und of the Coors Supercross Series in the Houston As tro do me. Th eSu percross Series was engaged in a direc t competition wi th Mickey Thompso n's Stadium Motocross Series ... Chuck Springsteen (Ho n) wo n the final ro und of the AMA Ind oor Invitational Pro Ice Race Series in Muskegon, Michigan... Dan Smith (Hus) kept his string of desert wins alive w ith a ,_, win at the SCORE Parke r 400 in the Ari:i ~l, - ~ ' zona desert... Italian Eddy Ori oli rode "~';J I ~ :~Tr'J I ; l~~a Ho nda NXR750 to the overall victory -, '- - . .J..I...;J.;..J.:.JI in the mo torcycle class at the 8500-mile 'ffll1ill1 "··jj".·,~ Paris- to-Dakar rally ... Cycle News intertJ '1J!II~;!;!j,j~ viewed former 250cc MX World Cham1!"I!IjIjli/oOll,rJ pion Jacky Vimon d . The Fren chman was at tempting a come back afte r a freak accident in Ca baret, Fra nce, w he re he was seriously injured after plummeting to the floor while being lowered from the ceiling as he was m a k in g a grand en trance a t a party in his ho no r... AMA 125cc National Hare & Hou nd Champion ;~!J Jeff Miller was also interviewed . 1'X J . ... . iiii. . .. '59

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