Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 10 07

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 85 of 86

AVIEW FROM THE FENCE BYERIC JOHN ON S ast January, the Goodyea r Tire & Rubber Compan y , in its a n n ua l a uto mo bi le- racing a tte n d a nc e rep ort , d o cum ent ed that 16,861,29 1 . fans a tte nded th e 230 major America n au to races ru n through ou t the ca len d ar y ear. By fa ct orin g in th e m aj o r U .S. race series suc h as th e NASCA R Wins to n Cup se ries, th e CA RT Champio ns h ip se ries, th e HR A ati onal Ch ampion ship se ries and the Wor ld of Outl aw s ci rc u it, Goodyea r reported that au to- racing attendance ha d gro w n by nea rly 10 per cent over the previous yea r. Wh ile th e folks at Goodyear didn't include the sport of Su percross in their well-respect ed d ocument , it ca n' t b e d eni ed that th e s po rt o f stadium motocross is now hov ering on the edge of becoming a major mot orsport in this nation . Aft er a hig hl y accla im ed 1998 seas o n - which dre w a lmos t 750, 000 specta tors to the 16-round series for an average crowd cou nt of over 45,000 Supercross, with its eye- rais ing Nielse n TV ratings num ber s, g listening s tickand- ba ll venues, 18-w heel se mi trucks and celebrity like racers, hea ds into the 1999 ca m paign with th e resp ect of its four-wh eeled big cousi ns. "You know , we've bee n tal ki ng to Rick Johnson a lo t latelv," said PACE Motor Sports CEO Gary Beeker from his office in suburban Chicagoland. "Rick can 't get a ride in any of the NASCAR serie s because not many people in ASCA R know who he is . But if you loo k at Jeremy McGrat h, w ho races in front of over 750,000 people each year and ha s received nat ional te levision exposure throu gh the Supercross series, he ta lks to the peop le involved in car racing about his fu ture and hears, 'Yeah! We know w ho yo u a re.' They're int er ested in him becau se they know him . Bu t R.J. can't do that because he was not par t of the main s tream boom Supercross has go ne through in the las t four or five years." Becker has a poi nt. Co ming off a wi nter of incessant travel, tro ubl eshooting and deal maki ng, he is bac k in Chicago, L alread y well into the planning stages for th e 1999 A MA Su pe rc ross Series. Thrilled with the wildl y successful 1998 sta di u m tour d e force: Becker p lans to take wh at wo rked well last season an d place it up agains t the approaching campaign . "We had extraordi nary performa nces Jer emy McGrath , Rick y from Car m ic h ae l, John Do wd a n d Do ug Henrv in 1998," Becker dec la red. "A nd along with a dozen other guys that put 110 percent into w ha t they d o, and ad d itional su ppo rt from Chaparral an d FMF, the emerge nce of Racer X magazin e, the success of the outdoor nation als and the ABC broad cast , wh er e we exposed the sport to 3 million new peopl e, it was jus t an incred ible yea r for the sp ort. Every thin g clicked and everybody did their job. Recently, the manufacturers told us tha t the sales of 80cc motorcycles are on a big in crease. That tells me that a lot of young kid s lov e Su percross and want to race th ese things, and hopefull y grow up a nd rid e mot o rcycles th eir e ntire life." For a ll in te n ts and pur p o se s, i t's Becker who sits at the rudder, stee ring the spo rt toward the elusive and hidd en tr e a sure of b ig-m on e y TV deals, inc reased ticket sales a nd corporate sponsorshi p. And while it can be rough, omino us sa iling at times, Becker seems to enjoy it all tremendously. "I've proba bly had m or e fun - and this inclu des my experience in rock and ro ll - with supercross tha n anything:' he said. "T his was the bes t year of my ca reer. You know thr ee years ago, we went o ut to the te am ma nagers and manufactu rers and asked them what we could do to make thei r lives better. We tal ked abo u t th e a u tog rap h sessions, sta rting th e se ries on the West Coast, an d ot her matt ers. We told them that we wan te d to solve th e ir p robl em s. We invit ed race rs, mechanics, tru ck dri ver s a nd marketing people, and eve ry th ing went well." In ord er to m ak e it in th e hi gh stakes, vicious Ameri can en tertainme nt a rena , PA CE mu st cons ta n tly g row , d e ve lo p a nd po lis h t h e Sup ercro ss prod uct. It's a cons ta nt; dog-ea t-dog figh t for the almighty consu mer entertainment dollar, a nd PACE m u st n ot o nly meet its goals a nd objectives , it mu st also cas t a warm a nd brigh t halo over th e man ufactu re rs w ho use th e series to tout their products and brand image. "Th e ma nufactu re rs a re s pendi ng u pward s of $2.5 mill ion to race Su percross," Becke r ex plai ne d . " If we ca n' t deliver an d move in to the future, it isn' t worth it to them. Su pe rc ross ha s to d eliver a nd we have to wo rk togeth er. For instance, we crea ted the ABC network show, and all the OEMs participa ted by buy ing spo ts , w h ic h ba si call y underwrot e our costs. "Recen tly, we wen t to Ca liforn ia to visit the OEMs and told the m tha t PACE is dedica ted to ma king the sport mor e profession al," Becker added. "No matt er w ha t h a p pe n s, we a re commi t te d to doing w hateve r it takes to bri ng the tw o pa rties (PACE and th e ma nu facturers) together to furt her growth. The p rom oters are in it for the money, and I'm no t going to say we don' t want to make money fro m the even ts, b u t we also want to grow it and build it , and the money will come later." In few weeks' time - on Oc tober 10 and 11, to be exact - Las Vegas-based promoter Eric Peronard and his par tner Mike DeStefano will launch a standa lone Supercross known as "The Ll .S. Open of Supercross.' Tout ed as a glittery , big-dollar affai r, The Open, to be run in the opulent MGM Grand Arena, has ca used qu ite a co mmotion in the American motocross indus try . As it is . not a PACE-promo ted event , Becker views the m u ch-bally hooed eve n t as n othing more than a' re negade "oneoff." "The di fference between w ha t we d o and what the U.S. Op en does is to pay the riders a lot of money at one tim e," a wond erful Bec ke r explained . idea, but they ar e not d oing it to build th e sport. We keep hearing the question , If they can pay a p urse of $250,000, a "It's why can' t PACE? The answer to that is: We build th e s po rt a n d we s pe nd upwards of 51.6 million in har d ad d olla rs . PACE s pen ds an ave rage o f 5150,000 on ad vertising for eac h event. We also buy ads in USA Today, which is read by million s of people, and we spent money on the ABC broadcast. In d oin g all thi s, we ge ne ra te fou r tim es o u r inves tmen t in m ea sured m edi a th ro ug hout the series a nd we b r in g approx ima tely 750,000 people in to the stadi u ms . We do n' t di rectly pay the rid ers hu ge d ollars, bu t we prom ote them and provide a p latfor m for them to go out and ge t spo nsors. The Ll.S, O pen, in my opinio n, is a n Are nacross show and a payd ay for the rid ers. Howeve r, it is n ot bui ldin g th e p rodu ct. That ' s not necessaril y w ro ng, but it isn't wh at we d o . So wh en p e opl e co m pa re u s to th em , it' s n ot a p p les to a p p les . T he Su percross Series is growing the industry. In fact, a number of repr esentati ves fro m the manu fact urer s have recen tly told me tha t Supercross is the founda tion of growth in the entire motorcycle , industry.' While one may find mixed opi nions and emotions w hen the name PACE is brough t up in the paddocks a nd semi trucks of the Ll.S, Pro circuit, it can 't be denied that the promotional entity has helped deliver the sport to another level. In ot her words, love them or ha te them, Ga ry Becker and the entire PACE operation must be doing something right. "Our mission is to improve the presen tation of the show and to add to the points fund and overall pu rses:' Becker concluded . " We want to continue to build a sport so young men can get paid and be able to expose their talents. We wa nt one of them to go on to be the next Jeff Wa rd. " So will Jere my McGrath, fort ified by the fame and glory of bei ng a five-ti me Supercross Cha m pio n, go on to becom e th e next mot ocrosser to make it big in th e hi gh-jinks world of prof e ssion a l au to raci ng? 0 We can on ly hope so . 30 Y EARSAGO.., OCTOBER 24,1968 2 0YEARSAGO..• CTOBER 1 1978 1, O 1 0YEAR SAGO ... OCTOBER 5 1988 , s the cover explained , issue #39 contained the AMA Competition Congress agenda, and it is in teresting to read some of the p ro posals contained therei n, such as an initiative to "eliminate the 750cc limit for sidevalve engines and run all Ex pert and A mateur mac hi nes o n a 500cc basis , whet he r OHV, s ideva lve or 2-s troke (sic)" or to "stipu late in sa nction that p romoter allow two mechanics and rid er 's wife free admission " ... The ;68 AMA G ra nd Na tio nal titl e battle was still being . v iciou sly slugged ou t between Freddy Nix (H-D) and reigning champion Gary Nix on (Tri ), and it was Nix who got the upper hand this time, as he won the nin emile Na tional at Ok lahoma City and also took over the p oin ts lead . Ni xon finish ed a di stant seventh... Meanw hile, out west, Gen e Rom ero (Tri) scored a win over ,Mel Lach er (H-D) at Asco t Park. .. The G rand Ca nyo n Road Ru n, heJd over Labor Dav Weekend, drew so me 642 riders from as far away as C~lifomia and Texas. h e p h ot o on the cover of this issue #39 said it a ll, as Ja y Springsteen (H-D) lifted his third straight AMA Ca mel Pro n umber-one plate high in the air af ter he scored the win at the season finale Ascot H a lf Mi le . Sp ri nger defeated title r ival Steve Ek lund (H -D) bv 20 fee t, a nd thu s fi;e p o int s, for the tit le... Bob "Hurricane" Han n ah (Ya m) gav e h imse lf a ni c e litt le 22nd birthd ay present, a s he scored two moto wins fo r th e overa ll victory a t round tw o of the Trans- AM A Series at Red Bud Track N Tr ail in Buch an an, Michigan ... We brough t yo u a n in terv iew with AMA 500cc Na tio na l M X co n te n de r a n d facto ry Yamaha r id er Rick Bu rg e tt ... We a lso to ok a s pi n o n th e LOP S u z u ki RM 125 tha t was being co n tes ted in AMA Na tio na ls by Marty Moa tes . co tt Parker (H-D) raced to the Ascot Half Mile win, which should have been enough to clinch his first AMA G ra nd ational Championship title, but a p ro test by Bubba Shobert over his DQ at Syracuse was being exami ned by the AMA. Ricky Graham (Ho n) finis hed second, a n d Steve Morehead (H -D) finished th ird ... World 500cc Ch ampion-e lect Eddie Lawson (Yam) sco red his seventh win of the yea r a t the season fina le Brazilian GP in South Am er ica, while Spain's Silo Po ns (Hon ) fin ish ed third in the 250cc race, behind Do mi nique Sarron (Hon) and Carlos Lava do (Yam) to win the World 250cc title... Edd ie Lojak (Hus) won the Marietta, Ohi o, GNCC... Tyson Voh land (Kaw) won the Denver round of the Mickey Thompson Off-Road Champion ship Gran Prix Series ... Team Va nce & Hi nes (Suz), wit h rid ers Randy Ren frow and Pet er Ca rroll , gripped it s th ird s traight Coors Light WERA 24- Hou r Wes t end u ra nce race at Will ow Springs Int ernati ona l Raceway. .~ A T S

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's - Cycle News 1998 10 07