Bench Racing  Ammo: Obligations

Bench Racing Ammo: Obligations

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Racing on the weekends is what most would consider being a “racer’s” job. It is what most kids grow up dreaming to do and certainly is a huge part of the gig. There are, however, many other less known and glamorous aspects to racing professionally. How these are handled can be crucial to public perception and define the true “professional” aspect.

Case in point, riders are usually required to do dealer signings/appearances every Friday before the weekend’s race. On Friday morning, the rider will head to the airport and fly out, retrieve their bags and rental car, then head over to whichever dealer is hosting the event. Once they arrive, they will sign autographs and greet fans for 1-2 hours, usually from 6-8 p.m. The autograph signing is tradition in this sport, it has been going on forever, and it’s always a hit, because it’s much less hectic than race day, and fans get a better chance to interact. Once that’s over, many times the riders still need to find and check into their hotel and then find dinner. It makes for a long day after crossing the country and time zones. Of course it is part of the responsibility to put on a smile and show the fans that they are what drives the sport, but it is sometimes tough to find the energy if the rider had a long flight or fought Friday afternoon traffic to get there. If you have ever been to one of these signings, you can tell who really excels in this area and who is just there because they are required to be. As a former rider who is on the other side of the fence now, I can truly say that these appearances really do great things for the dealers and the fans really appreciate the few moments they spend with the stars.

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Dealer signings/appearances are a big part of a riders week.
Matty Fran photo

Another aspect of the job that most don’t see is the trade show/ride day requests from sponsors. Many companies will host dealer ride days during the spring and summer to promote products and get their dealers involved in their company gatherings. You’d be surprised how many top riders end up taking extra days out of their already jammed racing/training/testing schedule to attend these events. They are great opportunities for dealers to interact with employees and their riders in a low-pressure environment and sometimes they even get to ride with their favorite rider! Obviously, that’s a huge draw for a brand, and if they’re paying a rider a lot of money, they’ll want them to attend.

On the riders’ side, these are low-key events and aren’t a huge hassle, but they do interrupt travel schedules and training plans. If there is one thing trainers hate, it is distractions and interruptions. Ideally, trainers and riders would love to have every second of every day mapped out to maximize efficiency and output. Rhythm and consistency is key to optimal performance and these ride days and shows often will not fit into that plan. Sure, it is a sacrifice that is going to be made as the sponsors, dealers and fans need to take priority, but I have heard grumblings behind the scenes about changing up routines and adding travel days to the already grueling schedule. I don’t foresee this changing anytime soon, and in fact it might grow as companies are working daily on ways to incorporate their marketing tools into the customer forefront. It is another example for me of things I didn’t particularly enjoy or viewed as inconvenient back when I was racing, but as a company representative now, I see how valuable and important these interactions are.

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Press day can also take a lot of time out of a riders schedule.
Simon Cudby photo

Being a professional racer is the best job in the world. Getting paid to do what most people spend their last dime to do is hard to beat. If you go to your local motocross track and ask the kids what they dream of doing when they grow up, 99 percent of them are going to say they want to race professionally. I could never explain how grateful I am to have lived that life but as there are two sides to every coin, there are things that the riders don’t necessarily love doing. While these obligations aren’t favorites, they are absolutely crucial for growing the sport and keeping fans interested. I may not have seen that when I was racing but I certainly do now. I commend the racers who truly immerse themselves into these situations and do a great job for their employers. I hope that in the future, this side of the racing world can continue to show the fans that they are the reason we have jobs and get to live out our dreams.

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