It’s a tough time in our sport and the world right now with COVID-19 as things aren’t what they usually are. Although some aspects of the industry are doing well, others aren’t, which sucks for sure. One of those people that were affected was Dale Spangler. Spangled worked at Tucker Rocky as you’ll read but before that he was a top amateur in the sport and worked for WPS, Smith, Alpinestars as well. Here’s a conversation with Dale about what he’s doing now, what happened, and what’s next for him. Also, make sure to check out his work on his personal blog and his portfolio on his personal www.dalespangler.com.
Racer X: Obviously you were a very, very fast amateur motocrosser, and Loretta’s is going on this week and you wrote something up on your website about it. Different time when you did it, but still as a really hot amateur rider, pressure was there for you.
Dale Spangler: Absolutely. What is it now, almost 30 years ago? Twenty-eight or something like that. I can’t remember what exactly it was. That was definitely the pressure cooker in more ways than one. It was hot temperatures. You had to be fit. The track is always gnarly. I was looking at a little bit of the live feed going on right now and it just kind of takes you back. There’s always ruts. It’s kind of more like a pro national than probably any amateur national out there in that the track is extremely rough with deep ruts. I noticed it looked like this year they added quite a bit of sand. I bet it’s gnarly.
When you did it too, no matter how good you were at the ranch, whether it was you or [Jimmy] Button or [Tim] Ferry or any of these guys, you just started out as a privateer. That was it. Outside of maybe Damon [Bradshaw] or whatever. Different times back then when you did it.
Yeah. I was actually Team Green then and actually once I went pro in ’89 full-time that’s when I was riding for TUF Racing with the Suzukis. But up until then I think I was three years with Team Green. Of course, that added to the pressure too because they kind of expect their riders to do well at an event like that every year. The year before, ’87, that was my year, man. I just felt like everything clicked. I was super fit. Went there and won a 5K running race. Won that thing. It was just a good year. The next year it just didn’t click. For some reason, the ’88 bikes for me, I think it goes back to I broke my ankle right after I got the bikes. The ’88 Kawis seemed like they had this gnarly mid-range hit on the 250. I just never really clicked with that bike. After that thing bit me, I just was always scared of that thing.
Let’s start with your situation. You were working with Tucker Rocky and I assume everything was going good, but like everything going on right now, you’re a little bit a victim of the COVID thing and you’re looking for work.
I made it almost two years there. I was in Texas. I actually moved from Boise, Idaho, to Texas. We made it almost a year, my wife and I. My wife was born and raised here in Idaho. It wasn’t clicking for her at all. She got to the point where she really wasn’t interested in even going out much. So, I approached the management at the time, and they were nice enough to let me move back to Boise and work remotely. Up until March of this year, I was working remotely as a content manager and blogging and writing and doing PR. Then I was furloughed in March because of the COVID thing. Then May 15th I was informed that they’ve eliminated my position. There was quite a few people that got eliminated, unfortunately, but that’s just the breaks. In the big picture, there’s a lot of people in the same situation. So, I just have to kind of keep reminding myself of that and be thankful for what I have. Luckily, we have some money in the bank, my wife and I, so we’ve been able to not be too stressed about it. But at the same token, everybody is in the same boat with this crazy, crazy world we’re living in at the moment.
It does seem like Tucker itself as a company is going through a lot of changes over the last few years with Answer, with different brands and everything else. I’ve seen a bunch of CEO’s and COO’s and all that. They do seem to be restructuring a little bit.
Yeah. For me, that was a new experience. I’ve always seemed to have worked for companies that were privately owned, and to work for a company that had a board of directors and had investors, that was a completely new experience for me just in how decisions were made. It’s a lot different. I guess in a way it’s pretty normal for businesses in that world to be hiring and laying off people in the cycle like that. We’ve seen that with Harley-Davidson. I saw where they just laid off 700 people. Some of those people had been there 15, 20 years. It just seems like the nature of the beast when a company is a public company with shareholders.
Absolutely. You’re totally right, as opposed to a single owner, like you said. As bad as this pandemic has been for a lot of people health-wise and the economy and everything else, the power sports industry, from the companies I talk to—I just talked to one yesterday that said they had their best ever month, ever. This is generally in the time when nobody rides, or a lot of people don’t ride because it’s so hot. So, the power sports industry, the OEM’s have told me it’s been cooking. That’s a small silver lining in this terrible time that we’re in.
Yeah, exactly. I feel like once we get through this, and a lot of these businesses are I think figuring out how to operate in this new situation that we’re in. On the dealership side, I’ve definitely seen a lot of dealers say that exact same thing. They’re just crushing it. They can’t get enough new models to even sell. I have heard it’s primarily more so on the off-road side, ATV and dirt bikes. ADV is a little bit flat, which kind of surprises me. Street, I thought there would be more people that would jump in with this whole COVID thing going on that would want to actually have a motorcycle so that they could social distance while they’re commuting, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. But off-road, it’s incredible. Even some of the races that have started back up again I’m seeing they’re getting record number of people showing up at local races. From that aspect, it’s pretty incredible. So hopefully it’ll trickle down. Some of the brands, I don’t know if they’re necessarily just being conservative and not willing to expand at this time. It’s definitely tough for someone in my position. It’s been tough. Let’s put it that way. I’ve had a lot of talks with some companies, but part of it is I’m pretty rooted here in Boise where my wife and I are like, that was the last time we moved would be to Texas. I’m not saying absolutely that would be the case, but more than likely it has to be something where I either work remotely.
That makes it tough, but I get it.
I know it’s possible. I’ve been doing it for almost a year with Tucker. It takes a certain type of person, I think, to be able to work remotely because you have to be self-motivated and you’re okay being by yourself or whatever, which I’m used to. Some people thrive on having the interaction with people and an office. For me, I could care less. I can enjoy it if I’m in that situation, but if I’m not, I’m fine too. It’ll happen when it happens. I just have to be patient. I know it takes time.
You did racer service for Smith, and you worked at Alpinestars. Of course, you were a marketing guy at WPS and content manager at Tucker. What do you want to do? What kind of job do you like to do or want to do?
I feel like I’m in my element these days with creating kind of like what you guys are doing. I know you guys seem to focus a pretty high percentage of your stuff is more podcasts these days. Kind of the popularity of it right now is [Joe] Rogan and these other people. There’s a lot of people that seem to consume their news and learn about things through podcasts. I like writing. I like long form. I like research type things. So that to me is my dream to be working in that realm at some point. If not, it’s fun for me. It’s an outlet. I’ve been practicing this whole time while I’ve been jobless and just kind of honing my craft, if you will. It’s not something that happens overnight. It takes years. I’m sure you can tell me that, too. I’m sure if you look back at something you wrote five years ago compared to now, you’re like, whoa. I’ve evolved since then.
What’s the website? Is it just DaleSpangler.com?
Yeah. That’s my portfolio that I’ve kind of built up that I’ve been focusing more on. I still have my site, DirtBuzz.com, which I don’t really do a whole lot with anymore, but there’s a lot of really good, timeless content on there that’s kind of the Racer X style.
It’s interesting. Like you said, you’d be really good at it. You’re articulate. You have experience racing at the highest level. You’ve worked in the industry a bunch of different ways. You’d be really good at it, I think. Unfortunately, as you know, the people that are truly making good livings in media, blogging, podcast world in this industry isn’t high. I’m thankful I’m one of them, but it’s a tough go.
But you ground it out too, for years. That’s the thing. It’s not like it happened overnight. It’s baby steps to where you have to be willing to be in it for the long haul. Where I kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel is, I’ve seen some of these detailers like RevZilla in the Rocky Mountains where they’re starting to realize the advantage of doing content marketing, which is creating your own original content and editorial. RevZilla has been really good at that. I know they just hired two or three guys that were ex-Bonnier and Cycle World and Motorcyclist guys that now are their content team. In addition to being a retailer, they have the content that brings the people to the site, and it’s actually really good content. So that’s where I kind of see the opportunity, which is kind of what I was doing at Tucker. I think I did over 400 blog posts in the time that I was there. Trying to do stuff that’s good for SEO and brings people to the site, and it’s educational and informative.