You may have noticed that Arenacross has started back up here recently with the AMA Arenacross Championship having done two rounds. New ownership is aboard and some new innovations as well. We had one of the owners, Robby McQuary, on the PulpMX Show recently to talk about how it’s going, the new era in AX, what they have planned, and more.
Racer X Online: You’re two rounds down in the series. How’s it going? What’s it been like to do it? You strangely enough went to Albany, Georgia, and Albany, New York. Your first two stops.
Robby McQuary: We thought we’d save some money with the opening ceremonies, just do one. “Welcome to Albany.”
How’s it been going?
It’s good. The show, I feel like the format and the racing has just been fantastic. We changed a lot of things with what you’re seeing and the way that the event is flowing throughout the night. I feel like the response has been great. The racing has just been heated the entire time. Basically, we took it back to kind of the old way of having a pro night with a pro track. Some of the things that are a little bit different though is we’re having two main events. They’re standalone. The purse money, the points are all paid individually, but we’re inverting the gate pick for that second main event. So, your top guys are ending up on the back row and having to come through. It has made for some great racing throughout the entire night.
I like that. Now of course, the pros aren’t going to be too happy, but what has been their response to that format?
KP, Kyle Peters, he’s not a big fan of the inversion. I think he gets what we’re trying to do, though. So, I think everybody is coming around. He was probably the most vocal about not liking the change, but I think after giving it a couple weeks, I think people are realizing we’re trying to do what’s best for the sport and what’s best for the racing, and that’s ultimately what’s going to be best for the riders. We made a slight change in-between the first two rounds. We’ve moved it down. Instead of taking 16 to that main event, we took 12. Then we added a B-main for those next 12 in qualifying. Something that kind of came out of that, which we knew it would help the racing and the feature main events, but the B main ended up being extremely exciting, because you had guys that were typically just making it into the main kind of just skating out of people’s way, now they’re battling. Eight of those guys think they can win that thing, and it just made for some excellent racing.
Some big names in the first two. Kyle Peters, like you mentioned. Phoenix Racing Honda guy, supported. [Caden] Braswell was there, the guy who won the Loretta Lynn’s thing. You’ve had Isaiah Clark. [Josiah] Natzke showed up. Luke Neese. You’ve had some good guys. What is KP talking about? He still won the second moto at the opener, even from the reverse order. So, calm down, KP!
Absolutely. Even in Albany, New York, the second round, he finished third in the second race and got fourth in the first one from the front row. So, it’s worked out. Cayden Braswell rode amazing at Albany, New York, and got his first win. So did Isaiah Clark. Isaiah came in just hungry. You could tell from the first lap of practice he was motivated. It’s setting up for a great season. We’ve got some exciting things coming out for the January events. The app will be out where fans can actually vote for a head-to-head race. One of the big features, which I knew you would like, within the app fans can support the riders directly. So, they’ll have profiles. You can sponsor the rider directly. You can do what we call “motivate.” So, you can make it performance based. So, if you want to see Kyle come from the second row and you want to put some money on it for him to make it to first place or top three, you can do that and motivate those riders in that way.
Oh, wow. That’s cool. That’s something they can see before the main event?
Yeah. There’ll be a back end where they can kind of see what they’re racing for. It should be exciting. That was really what kind of motivated us to get involved was just how do we bring the financial gain back to these riders? Back when I was racing 20 years ago, there was a lot more at stake, a lot more up for grabs. Just kind of fallen off over the years. Thinking about how do we get this back without just going to the same wells every time with the industry? So, kind of developing this format with the fans and making it crowd-based and crowd-sourced. That’s kind of the direction we’re trying. I hope it pays off. I hope it works out. I hope it changes the way the riders earn their winnings, and it really elevates the sport.
Really cool. January 6th, Loveland, Colorado, the next one. ArenacrossUSA.com to learn more about the series. There 100 percent needs to be an arenacross series in America. There’s two of them as we go right now. Obviously, you guys are the AMA ones, There’s also another series. That’s something that obviously, everybody wants to make money, just like there’s other podcast shows, so I’m not the one saying that there should just be one podcast show, but I would love it if you guys could somehow… We need one arenacross series to get everyone at it, like the old days, like when you raced it. I don't know what the answer is, but in my opinion, to throw the thing forward in arenacross, we’ve got to get one thing going here for everybody.
Well, yeah. I think there is only one nationwide series that is racing for the AMA number one plate in arenacross, and that’s our series. I’m all for, there’s probably half a dozen little arenacrosses out there. Anything that’s good for the riders is good for the sport, so if there’s a way a guy can go pick up a little bit of money on a weekend, great. I’m all for it. I think that’s one thing. I think after this year when you see how we’ve elevated it, I don't think there’ll be any question of what the premier series is.
The talent level you have now and Phoenix Racing Honda supporting it, it does seem like it’s the premier one, for sure, in my eyes. I’d love to get it in the fall before the supercross season. Obviously, you guys weren’t able to make that happen. I’d love for it to just be one. There is a market there, in my eyes, to make this thing killer for everybody.
One thing we’ve done was we moved our pro day to Friday. We’re going to be live on MAV[TV] starting in January. So, we really did that with the fans in mind. You can follow the series on Friday, so you’re not competing with supercross. They’re not overlapping. So, that was a strategic move that we made as a group, saying, we’re going to try to develop this thing for a standalone, not conflicting with supercross. Even though we may be one the same weekend, you don’t have to choose one or the other. We know we’re not supercross. We’re not trying to be. I think when arenacross was at its best was when you had guys leaving supercross towards the end of their career and finishing it out. When you had those guys starting out in arenacross and that intersection there to me in my opinion is when the racing was the best. I really think if we can prove the concept of this more fan-based, fan interaction event, I’m optimistic that we can prove the concept and draw back some of those guys that still want to go racing and make a living. If we can prove the concept with arenacross and get them over there, it’s going to be exciting.
Some of the concepts you’re talking about are really cool, really interesting. Is that app out yet, or when can people get that app?
It will be out before January. We’re kind of in the testing phase right now. The staff has it downloaded and we’re working through it, just kind of fine-tuning it. It’ll be out before the Colorado, January 6th event.
Kris Keefer: I met Robby at a Regional before Loretta’s, and I didn’t know anything about this. Then he was my neighbor at Loretta’s, and then I found out that he purchased the series and started the series. I didn’t ask you this while we were parked next to you. What made you want to do this? Why did you want to create all this and make this happen?
I ask myself every day now. It’s funny. My son took an interest in riding again. That got me back into the sport a couple years ago. We were on our way home from a race. My wife was looking at the payout and she was like, “This is all these guys are racing for?” She was like, “Is this how it was when you were racing?” I said, “No.” I explained to her kind of what it once was and how far it’s gone. She told me, “You need to do something about this.” So, that kind of planted the idea, and then over the next few months I just kind of developed this plan in my mind and put it down on paper. I got some partners involved. Jack had had an interest in doing something, and Wayne is a business partner I’ve had on other ventures in the past. He comes from a music background. So, we all kind of got together. That’s what really motivated us. Seeing all these guys training, working so hard and not having really a place to go outside of supercross and dealing with the budgets and everything that they were dealing with. I just see a need and a void that needs to be filled. So, that was the motivation and kind of how it came about. Time will tell. I think if the industry will get behind it again, and then the fan base connects with the event, I think it will take off. If not, we’re making an effort, 100 percent effort to see that that happens.
How has been the industry support for you? Again, we’re post-COVID. The companies I talk to, sales are down. They’re not where they once were. That’s fine because we were booming for a while. So, how has the support been from the industry and your partners and things like that?
The support is good. It’s not great. I think with anything new in this industry, as you guys know, everybody wants to see are you going to deliver. I think this is our proving year. I think we are delivering. Guys that came to the first couple rounds are like, “Wow, it’s back.” Even just the level of production and everything that we’re bringing is really back to what it once was. I’m confident. Sponsors, I think there were a lot that are just on the sidelines watching, and there’s already been a few that have contacted us and will probably get involved before January. So, that’s been kind of the response. I think next year it will just continue to grow. There is a lot of excitement. People want this. They just wanted to know are we going to live up to our side that we’re telling people.
It’s interesting. Again, ArenacrossUSA.com for the schedule. Amateurs on Saturday, pro race on Friday. KP right now continuing, although he didn’t win the last round. He’s coming back from a pretty good injury. So, to see him winning races is cool because he was hurt pretty good. So, that’s awesome.
Yeah. A lot of respect for KP. I didn’t really know him and got to know him a little bit before the season. We did some promo things. He’s an awesome rider and super talented. You can just tell he puts the work in. I’m glad to have him as a champion of the series and kind of the spokesperson. He’s awesome.
You had the first two rounds. Anybody showing up in January that you know of, rider-wise or team-wise? Anybody coming in?
I know there’s some young guys. Like Chandler Baker, he was doing really well in the amateur stuff. He was planning on being at all of them. He broke his collarbone at Freestone. So, he’ll be in. I know some of the west coast guys will be coming out for our Reno event. That’s in February. We have two dates in Guthrie, which if you know arenacross, Guthrie is always one of the best tracks. Huge arena. The dirt is just phenomenal. Those are the last two weekends before Houston. So, we’re looking to get some of those east coast teams to come and use it as a warmup, because it really is more of a supercross. You’re definitely into the 40-second, 45-second lap times there.