Racer X: Team Suzuki City hasn’t been in the pits this year. What’s up? Michael Nasakaitis: At the last minute we had to put the team on hold for a season. Sponsors were dragging their feet, saying, “Next week, next week, next week,” and we had a couple sponsors jump ship at the last second for some other teams. We got some phone calls at the last minute, but it was too little too late. Instead of coming out half prepared, we decided it would be better for our sponsors if we just took the season off.
Did you have riders lined up? We were working with Zack Freeburg and Justin Starling. We didn’t have contracts with them yet, but it was our intention to use those guys and go racing with them.
When the sponsors pulled out, did they get left out in the cold too? I think Starling has something lined up, and we’re still working with Freeburg. As of right now, he’s still going to ride one of our bikes, we just can’t afford to take the truck out to the races without adequate sponsorship.
Are you sitting out the whole year, or just supercross? We’re actually still talking to some sponsors, and we may come back out for the outdoors. It’s our intention to be back as quick as we can. All the industry money has pretty much run dry. They spend their money on all the top teams, and there is very little left for all the other teams to fight over. Going outside of the industry is tough with the way the economy is right now. You just have to do whatever you can to make stuff happen, and hope it comes through.
Nasakaitis (left) and Suzuki City are planning on sitting out the 2012 season. Photo: Simon Cudby
If you had the funding, you’d be out there then. We got some funding at the last minute, but it was one of those things where it was so last minute, it still wasn’t enough funding to do the things that we need to do, the right way. If you’re running the Lites class, if you’re not doing it the right way, you’re just wasting everyone’s time and money. If you go out there without the proper motor, suspension, or enough testing, you’re just spinning your wheels.
With all of the sponsorship going to the top teams, do you think that will drive a lot of the smaller teams out, and ultimately become a negative thing for everyone in a few years? Yes and no. It’s kind of an endless cycle, it’s always been like that. The economy gets good, a bunch of teams pop up, and the economy gets bad, and teams disappear. No matter how many teams go out, there’s always another sponsor ready to come in and start a new team. Look at all the teams that were here five years ago, there’s only a few of those guys left, and there’s a whole new group of guys like MotoConcepts, myself, and Valli. There will always be new guys coming in ready to start teams.