The folks behind the FIM World Supercross Championship series released the first round of teams that have signed up for the series that starts this fall and then next summer. We had Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki’s team manager Dustin Pipes on Monday’s PulpMX Show to talk about the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship as well as their ambitious plan to do both World Supercross and Pro Motocross next year. Below is an excerpt from the talk about World Supercross (you can watch the full show on YouTube):
Racer X Online: Why world supercross? What attracted you to it, and how’s that going to work?
Dustin Pipes: We talked to Adam [Bailey] and Ryan [Sanderson] from the very beginning. A lot of phone calls. We weren't always sold on it, but once we’d seen what they were trying to do, we just kind of believed in the vision. I’ve been around dirt bikes my whole life, whether it was working with a team, being a rider, being at my dad’s races… I’ve always been around racing, and I’ve wanted to see it go to the next step. This just seemed like a great way to potentially get there. I think it’s neat. I like the ideas that they have. It was just a chance that we really, really wanted to take. So, this was something that we were going to do back in December. We’re excited for the future. We also know that we have a lot of hurdles, because we do plan to compete in the U.S. races. So, next year is going to be a little stressful. We’ll see how it goes.
That’s taking on a lot. This summer is four races or whatever, this fall. Then next year they’re going to go more. So, you’re going to have a rider or two doing the nationals and then a rider or two doing the world supercrosses?
Yeah. So, we’ll probably have six riders total next year. Going to be a little intense.
Are you doing them on Suzuki too, everything? All series?
From what I hear, your teams in World Supercross can be on different OEM’s. It doesn’t matter. It’s whatever you want to do.
Yeah. I think for the future of this team and where we want to go, I don't think that’s something that we want to mess with right now.
That’s hectic. You’re going to be at Hangtown, then you’re going to be in the UK or wherever, and then you’ll go back for High Point, then you’ll fly back to Sydney or whatever. You’ll be on your toes.
I’m going to get some miles, man. I’m going to be flying good.
So, you just believed in what they’re kind of offering as far as exposure to different people? How’s Twisted and Suzuki and Progressive and everybody you talked to?
That’s still something we’re trying to work through, because not a lot of those brands are global. So, for us, it’s how can we reach those different markets and kind of grow what we’re doing? Because we’ve had some success marketing-wise here. It seemed like a good opportunity to kind of test and see what we can do and if we can reach a bigger crowd audience. We’re kind of working through with Twisted Tea and with our bigger sponsors to see which rounds they want to sponsor and be a part of. So, that’s an ongoing discussion. We’re trying to tackle it right now. We have some pretty cool things in the works. We’ll see how it goes.
Some of the teams I talked to that got the package and looked at it, are still concerned withhow much money it’s going to take to do the series, even though the promoters are helping out more so than anybody over here. They’re still concerned with how much it’s going to cost. Tickets and hotels and the purse money for the riders and the salary, all of that. Have you done that math? Have you realized that this is going to cost you X amount? Or do you feel like even though it’s going to cost you X amount, you’re still going to be ahead of the game?
I think we’re definitely spending more than they’re going to give us, year one and year two. We already budgeted out the whole thing and are prepared for that. It’s kind of on us to come up with the rest of the money and try to market ourselves globally. We plan on going there and being one of the top teams, so we definitely plan on spending more than what they’re giving us. That is a very scary hurdle, but it’s something that we are prepared to do.
Like I said, year one, year two you’re in the hole a little bit, but year three things are better. You can sell your franchise spot to somebody down the road if need be. This is a long-term plan for you guys?
Yeah. We don’t know what it’s going to be five years from now, but it was an opportunity that we didn’t want to miss. I’m curious to see where it goes. I like the guys that are leading it because I feel like they’re dreamers, and I am as well. I think they’re open to doing things a little bit differently, and that’s kind of neat to hear. We don’t have to do the same thing that we’ve always done. So, I think it’s going to bring a little bit of excitement and I think it’s going to raise the level of everybody here, too. I think that’s pretty neat. I know people are freaking out a little bit about adding another series, but really when I look at this, how is it different than the MXGP’s over in Europe? I kind of view it close to the same as that.
I think any time more riders can get paid and more jobs is a good thing. The nationals have to write a check to Daytona Motorsports Group for a million dollars just to run the nationals. Obviously, I’m employed by Racer X which is a sister company of MX Sports who run the nationals, so I have some bias here, I guess or conflict. I don't think the nationals are killing it with money. I don't think they are, in my mind. Do they make a profit? Sure, absolutely. It’s a business. They make a profit. I have no doubt of that. But to me, supercross should be doing more to help the teams. They are making a lot of money. I know people who work for them. I know people who tried to buy supercross before Feld [Entertainment] did. I know sort of some of the stuff inside. They’re making a lot of money, and that’s great. They should. I make money on PulpMX. I’m okay with that. But there comes a point where you’ve got to look around and be like, "These people are helping me. They’re helping me put my show on. What can I do?" Oh, I’m stopping them from selling merch. I’m stopping them from handing out sponsorship stuff. I’m not paying them. There are so many things that they take from you guys. You’re right. Maybe this World Supercross stuff will change some stuff in the U.S. I hope so. I do. Another question-would you be allowed to sell Twisted Tea merch and stuff at these things?
I don't know if we should get into our deal. The way it is, we’re going to co-brand things. That’s kind of how it works.
Do you have any riders under contract for next year?
Yeah, we do.
So, you have some spots taken and you’re looking to get six guys to do both series. Do you picture yourself having World Supercross riders only?
It’s something that we’ve discussed. It’s pretty crazy, the people that are in my inbox to do it from around the globe. I was very, very surprised. So, I think it’s something that we would be open to. We’ve just got to see how it all shakes out. That’s definitely something that we’ve thought about it and that we could go. For us, we’d really like someone probably to build with over multiple years. For our team and for our partners, it’s about developing a brand as well as going out to the races. So, we really want someone that we can be with for a few years and kind of develop some content and some branding and make sure that they’re really a part of the team. It’s all got to make sense in its own little way.
Going forward, obviously you have plans with Suzuki, like you talked about. Are there rumblings of model updates that you know of that are coming down the pipeline soon, or something that you can mention?
I think there’s a lot of rumblings on every Vital MX message board that you go on. I’ll just say that. I will say that I can’t comment on the bike, but Suzuki is very, very committed to racing dirt bikes and racing in the U.S. That’s something that was told to us immediately after the other little departure. So, we’re pretty confident in our future with them. We’re excited for the future.
Do you see yourself getting 250 guys? Do you see yourself expanding the program?
From what I understand, the purse money is double what a supercross pays, but the team gets the purse money, and they decide with the riders on how much they want to pay off. NASCAR does the same thing. I like that. I think that’s good. You’re like, “Hey, I’ll give you 50 percent of the purse money,” which is an AMA race, or whatever. You think about the AMA pays out Ken Roczen $12,500 for winning a 450 main event. Do you think Kenny cares about 12.5? That 12.5 could go to the team or whatever. It’s so screwed up that way. That is nothing to Kenny, the 12.5.
Yeah. The thing that makes this a little different though is you don’t know if the OEM is going to support this series with a bonus yet. For the riders, that race money means a lot to them now. So, it’s kind of a give and take there until the series keeps on growing and the OEM’s back it and stuff like that and say what they’re going to do. I think that purse money is really, really vital to paying the riders.
You could say, “I’m not paying you a dime. All your expenses and you get all the purse money, so you get double an AMA Supercross purse money in every race.” That’s the deal. You could, theoretically.
Yeah. I think to get the riders that you want to ride, I don't know if that’s going to exactly fly. We’ll see how it goes. I think there’s levels to guys that want to come and do it. I think to get someone that could win you’re going to have to spend a little.
I think it will be interesting. I can’t believe you want to do nationals and World Supercross at the same time. I like that, but holy smokes. That seems like a lot. For us, being around racing my whole life, outdoors is so grassroots in moto so that’s something that we don’t want to lose. It’s definitely gnarly. Those days the freaking mechanics work so hard compared to the supercross races. You kind of feel for them. It’s something that we don’t want to lose. We think it’s very, very important to the growth of moto, so we don’t plan on going anywhere. Plus, our manufacturer wants us to do it, too.