Vital MX Forum QNA: Mike Genova

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GuyB

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10/17/2017 2:27 PM



This week's guest in the Vital MX Forum QNA is the owner of the Smartop MotoConcepts Racing team, Mike Genova.

As a team owner for the last decade, Mike has sponsored a slew of riders, including Mike and Jeff Alessi, Vince Friese, Kyle Chisholm, and Tommy Hahn, among others. They're coming into their second season with support from Honda, and this year they have Vince Friese and Justin Brayton returning to the team, and also added Jake Weimer (though he's currently sidelined with an injury).

As a successful businessman and passionate race fan, Mike always has some interesting ideas on how he runs his team. Bring your best questions, and he'll be peeking in here this week to answer them. As always, keep it respectful, and ask questions that you would like in a face-to-face meeting.

If you want to see previous Vital MX Forum QNAs, click the Forum QNA tag below the subject line. (Check below to see what it looks like.)

tornliverluke

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10/17/2017 2:38 PM

Mike, the only question I have is how in the world does that clown Aaron Mrozek still have a job??

I'm just kidding, I went to school with him at MMI. Hes a good dude. I think you are great for the sport and we need more guys like you giving riders opportunities to race at a high level. Thank you for all that you do.

mb60

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10/17/2017 3:02 PM

Mike thanks for taking the time to do this and good luck for the new season. My question is just how much support do you guys receive from Honda ? Free bike and parts or do you guys purchase the bikes at a discount.

ML512

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10/17/2017 3:39 PM

To add to mb60's question, how does your current Honda support compare to what MCR had with Yamaha a few years back and are you happier the team's current level of support compared to the Yamaha relationship?

Thanks for doing this sir!

Vital MX's Do-All Minion...

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colintrax

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10/17/2017 3:41 PM

Thanks for stopping by and answering some questions.
I'm curious if yall have considered racing the outdoors or is this going to be a sx only team forever?

rhargrave431

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10/17/2017 4:27 PM

Not from a business standpoint, or an owner standpoint, but as a fan, what do you wish this sport would change or do better?

LoudLove

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10/17/2017 5:41 PM

Thanks, Mike, for allowing us to invade your personal space via the QNA. As a relative "outsider", what were the most unexpected challenges you encountered in building a race team? Also, what markets do you believe SX/MX could tap into to expand the fan base, and in a similar vein, what perceptions (real or imagined) are holding our sport back from wider acceptance?

"You can't resist the louder pull..."

j368

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10/17/2017 6:04 PM

Mike,

Thanks for doing this, and being a major presence in our great sport. I know it wasn't easy to navigate through all the obstacles that have been thrown at you all these years. Just wanted to say thanks for being involved, and keep up the great work!!!

Phillip_Lamb

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10/17/2017 8:28 PM

Mike, for a few years you guys ran the "MCR" bikes. and now you guys clearly run Honda's. Was the move due to a lack of support?

Also I see so many 'satelite' teams running fullsize factory rigs despite the rising costs of the sport and cost of running such a large operation, I understand part of this is due to carrying everything from bikes to enough parts to build a new bike, but Why do you think there hasnt been a return to smaller box vans and relatively smaller crews?

"If you feel in control, you're not going fast enough" ~Mario Andretti

MCR Boss

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10/17/2017 9:01 PM

tornliverluke wrote:

Mike, the only question I have is how in the world does that clown Aaron Mrozek still have a job??

I'm just kidding, I went to school with him at MMI. Hes a good dude. I think you are great for the sport and we need more guys like you giving riders opportunities to race at a high level. Thank you for all that you do.

Thanks for the compliments. Ya we love Aaron like there is no tomorrow.
He is spot on and diligent yet so appreciative and humble.

MCR Boss

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10/17/2017 9:09 PM

mb60 wrote:

Mike thanks for taking the time to do this and good luck for the new season. My question is just how much support do you guys receive from Honda ? Free bike and parts or do you guys purchase the bikes at a discount.

Over the last nine years of pro racing nobody has supported us like Honda.
Beyond financial support in many forms, we are considered part of the Honda family by Honda. They share with us special parts, technical support, the Honda SX track and much more. To be recognised as a partner in racing with the greatest motorcycle company in the world is a real benefit and honor for our company.

MCR Boss

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10/17/2017 9:32 PM

colintrax wrote:

Thanks for stopping by and answering some questions.
I'm curious if yall have considered racing the outdoors or is this going to be a sx only team forever?

As an owner and a team we love MX.
The problem is the cost of doing a 12 round MX series is two to three times the money as the SX series due to the extreme strain on the bikes and equipment.

When you combine the two series in terms of cost it gets really expensive. In addition to the high cost of MX, the ability to raise any outside the industry support is virtually impossible because of a difficult tv package, low attendance at the races.

The inside the industry support is very much directed towards the most popular teams, not always the most competitive, as evidenced in 2012 when mike had nine podiums, led the most amount of laps in series and finished second place in the championship.

To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams.

For these reasons, I think American MX is short lived and SX because of its business positives will end up being the only racing we have.

MCR Boss

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10/17/2017 9:45 PM

rhargrave431 wrote:

Not from a business standpoint, or an owner standpoint, but as a fan, what do you wish this sport would change or do better?

The reason I’m taking this opportunity to share is because i wish the pro racing community would be more informative and transparent on the how’s and what’s of pro racing. What I mean is there is so much more going on then the average fan knows but unlike major sports there’s really no way to be in the know.

If the average fan knew more of the reality of the many situations taking place n race weekend they would actually be more connected and engaged with what’s happening.

MCR Boss

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10/17/2017 10:04 PM

LoudLove wrote:

Thanks, Mike, for allowing us to invade your personal space via the QNA. As a relative "outsider", what were the most unexpected challenges you encountered in building a race team? Also, what markets do you believe SX/MX could tap into to expand the fan base, and in a similar vein, what perceptions (real or imagined) are holding our sport back from wider acceptance?

Probably my biggest challenge when entering into pro racing was the industry accepting me and respecting my desire and ability to race at this level. Mostly riders who have had proposed teams or team owners make unfulfilled promises that were made based on hopeful sponsor dollars.

When I entered into discussions with riders they often told me I didn’t understand or realize what it takes to go racing. They were right on one hand but they also didn’t know how capable and serious I was.

Another very difficult hurdle for me then and even now is the continual battle to fit into the popular club while at the same maintain an element of dignity and business sense.

In regards to breaking into other markets, I think your asking how do we get new and more fans. My feeling on this is we need to making the racing more interesting. More variables during the race like mandatory pit stops, inverted start order and other things. This more interesting race format may appeal to the non moto fan as a opposed to having the leader check out with twenty second lead and simply ride around.

Sully

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10/17/2017 11:27 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/17/2017 11:28 PM

Thanks for doing this, Mike. Were you guys actually looking into the possibility of signing James, or were you just stirring the pot for fun with this one?



cvm

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10/18/2017 1:51 AM

colintrax wrote:

Thanks for stopping by and answering some questions.
I'm curious if yall have considered racing the outdoors or is this going to be a sx only team forever?

MCR Boss wrote:

As an owner and a team we love MX.
The problem is the cost of doing a 12 round MX series is two to three times the money as the SX series due to the extreme strain on the bikes and equipment.

When you combine the two series in terms of cost it gets really expensive. In addition to the high cost of MX, the ability to raise any outside the industry support is virtually impossible because of a difficult tv package, low attendance at the races.

The inside the industry support is very much directed towards the most popular teams, not always the most competitive, as evidenced in 2012 when mike had nine podiums, led the most amount of laps in series and finished second place in the championship.

To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams.

For these reasons, I think American MX is short lived and SX because of its business positives will end up being the only racing we have.

" To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams. "

THIS, while maybe true in 2017, makes me want to throw up. Isnt that why a MX'er is a fkn Badass next to a fat football/baseball player makin 20M/yr?

On my dime i'd like to have Roger, Bob, Marty (tripes & Smith), Damon & JS7 (Whoever u pic) at a dinner table. After a "few", id love to show this to them for the 1st time and see their reactions.. Can you imagine? Hannah would jump out of his chair & start throwing sh!t

At the end of the day from your perspective it's prob 90% a business decision & I respect you (& admire you're effort) for that, But, 30 min? To RD? w/5"travel? seriously????

Again, Thanks for all you do for the sport

When Outdoor Nationals Die, MOTOCROSS (not sx) will have died. Hope I'm dead before then......

Marcello10

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10/18/2017 2:03 AM

Hi Mike, what are your expectations from Brayton for his second supercross season with MCR? Will he still have Showa supporting him with suspensions?

qwkdiesel87

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10/18/2017 4:52 AM

Hey Mike, For someone who is wanting to start up a pro team. What is the total cost per year a team like yours cost to run for the supercross season. Including rider salaries, semi, parts, bikes everything.

TXDirt

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10/18/2017 6:38 AM

MCR Boss wrote:

Probably my biggest challenge when entering into pro racing was the industry accepting me and respecting my desire and ability to race at this level. Mostly riders who have had proposed teams or team owners make unfulfilled promises that were made based on hopeful sponsor dollars.

When I entered into discussions with riders they often told me I didn’t understand or realize what it takes to go racing. They were right on one hand but they also didn’t know how capable and serious I was.

Another very difficult hurdle for me then and even now is the continual battle to fit into the popular club while at the same maintain an element of dignity and business sense.

In regards to breaking into other markets, I think your asking how do we get new and more fans. My feeling on this is we need to making the racing more interesting. More variables during the race like mandatory pit stops, inverted start order and other things. This more interesting race format may appeal to the non moto fan as a opposed to having the leader check out with twenty second lead and simply ride around.

I have been beating this dead horse for years now and it seems some just don't get it. Glad to hear at least someone in the industry understands. Kudos to you for thinking outside the box. And I also would like to see some form of a pit stop as well but we need to walk before we can run with regards to format changes!

SX racing has become painfully boring over the years for the fans, mainly due to the fact that the first 60 feet of the race has become too important. Thus making the remaining 15-18 laps utterly boring and uneventful. You see it week after week guys just riding around holding their position. Racing = passing and we don't see that enough.

What SX needs to do is pay a few championship points in the qualifiers to prevent any possible sandbagging, and then for the main events invert the gate pick order so last qualifier gets first gate pick and so on.

This will do two very much needed things in SX.

1. You will see a more varied start order. More fast guys will start towards the back and we can see them battle their way to the front. Again, passing = racing. Save for a few races each year, you might as well pack up and head home after lap three. Because you won't see much racing after that. Sure, if you want to see guys ride around be my guest. I don't, and I know many others who are extremely bored at SX races now to the point they no longer go. And these are hard core fans.

2. You will see more B team and privateers start up front and this gives additional exposure to those riders, and hence, their sponsors. This is important for the health of the sport from a sponsorship and exposure perspective. Give these guys some TV time and just maybe maybe you will start to see more sponsors in the sport. The talent and exposure is so extremely top heavy right now. Lets spread just a bit of the exposure around.

So there you have it.

Make SX Great Again.

LoudLove

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10/18/2017 6:42 AM

MCR Boss wrote:

Probably my biggest challenge when entering into pro racing was the industry accepting me and respecting my desire and ability to race at this level. Mostly riders who have had proposed teams or team owners make unfulfilled promises that were made based on hopeful sponsor dollars.

When I entered into discussions with riders they often told me I didn’t understand or realize what it takes to go racing. They were right on one hand but they also didn’t know how capable and serious I was.

Another very difficult hurdle for me then and even now is the continual battle to fit into the popular club while at the same maintain an element of dignity and business sense.

In regards to breaking into other markets, I think your asking how do we get new and more fans. My feeling on this is we need to making the racing more interesting. More variables during the race like mandatory pit stops, inverted start order and other things. This more interesting race format may appeal to the non moto fan as a opposed to having the leader check out with twenty second lead and simply ride around.

Interesting responses. SX, as a niche sport, is very "clickish", and outsiders are viewed with a wary eye, especially new teams that hire riders with polarizing histories. You likely expected a certain level of industry push-back, yet after several years (and significant investments) it's surprising that you're still wrestling with the "popular club". Which begs the question: how will fitting in improve the team's results, and what steps will you take to reach that goal?

As for increasing the fan base, SX is fighting against a riptide of declining motorcycle sales. A small percentage of Americans own motorcycles, and more than half the population has a negative opinion of motorcyclists. Do teams openly discuss the future of the sport, or are visions limited to the next race?

Lastly, has SMR (or any team) ever considered finding a true natural athlete and raising them through the ranks? While SX and MX takes tremendous physical skill, and the riders are "athletic", they are not what one might call natural "athletes". It's not a derogatory comment, as the motorcycle racing gene pool is relatively small due to the high cost of entry and lack of mainstream popularity. This results in a small, finite number of participants who can perform at the highest levels. Imagine a guy like Steph Curry or Christian McCaffery on a bike, guys with incredible natural ability, strength, and endurance. He's out there, just waiting for someone to give him a chance.

"You can't resist the louder pull..."

mattyhamz2

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10/18/2017 9:38 AM

colintrax wrote:

Thanks for stopping by and answering some questions.
I'm curious if yall have considered racing the outdoors or is this going to be a sx only team forever?

MCR Boss wrote:

As an owner and a team we love MX.
The problem is the cost of doing a 12 round MX series is two to three times the money as the SX series due to the extreme strain on the bikes and equipment.

When you combine the two series in terms of cost it gets really expensive. In addition to the high cost of MX, the ability to raise any outside the industry support is virtually impossible because of a difficult tv package, low attendance at the races.

The inside the industry support is very much directed towards the most popular teams, not always the most competitive, as evidenced in 2012 when mike had nine podiums, led the most amount of laps in series and finished second place in the championship.

To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams.

For these reasons, I think American MX is short lived and SX because of its business positives will end up being the only racing we have.

cvm wrote:

" To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams. "

THIS, while maybe true in 2017, makes me want to throw up. Isnt that why a MX'er is a fkn Badass next to a fat football/baseball player makin 20M/yr?

On my dime i'd like to have Roger, Bob, Marty (tripes & Smith), Damon & JS7 (Whoever u pic) at a dinner table. After a "few", id love to show this to them for the 1st time and see their reactions.. Can you imagine? Hannah would jump out of his chair & start throwing sh!t

At the end of the day from your perspective it's prob 90% a business decision & I respect you (& admire you're effort) for that, But, 30 min? To RD? w/5"travel? seriously????

Again, Thanks for all you do for the sport

When Outdoor Nationals Die, MOTOCROSS (not sx) will have died. Hope I'm dead before then......

"At the end of the day from your perspective it's prob 90% a business decision & I respect you (& admire you're effort) for that, But, 30 min? To RD? w/5"travel? seriously????"

He didn't say 30 min... He said 30 plus weeks in a row.

2014 YZ450F
1998 YZ250
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80% of the time it works every time

Forty

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10/18/2017 9:51 AM

No questions for you......just thanks for backing #800, I've been a fan of his for many years.

And thanks for putting riders to work and good bikes on the track....we need more people to do so...

Johnny Depp

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10/18/2017 11:09 AM

Thanks Mike for making yourself available to answer questions.
Where does the money come from, are you selling the products to help offset the cost or is this mostly your passion?

Any thoughts on the production rule, engine sizes and types, and the influx of electric bikes?

What are your thoughts on the degree of difficulty of the sport and tracks and it's result on your ability to have riders show up at the races to fulfill their obligation's?

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Mit12

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10/18/2017 11:50 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/18/2017 11:54 AM

First off thanks for starting the MCR team and taking the time to answer questions from the fans.
Rider image and factory team support. You have Vince Friese on your team, he is a good rider that seems to draw a lot of negative attention from the factory stars. Have you had any push back from factory teams about his actions and has it ever cost you support from the factories of other brands you have raced?

philG

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10/18/2017 12:32 PM

Hi Mike,

Do you feel that as a team owner with a business that doesnt rely on Moto to earn its dollars, its easier to choose your partners and sponsors, or more difficult.

Also , do you get much mileage out of inviting non Moto custoners to the races?

MCR Boss

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10/18/2017 1:29 PM

Sully wrote:

Thanks for doing this, Mike. Were you guys actually looking into the possibility of signing James, or were you just stirring the pot for fun with this one?



Wow that’s funny. I all honesty we were doing both. We were kinda joking around at corporate about the notion that James had left JGR for MCR, but then all of the sudden I thought well let’s have some fun with it and keep everyone guessing because if you remember nobody knew where James was or what he was doing, including us. However, I was absolutely trying to send a message to James that if he wanted to, we had a bike sitting here waiting for him to ride.

I will tell you that Jeremy Albright and I had a good relationship prior to that but after he saw that he was not to excited or loving. The reality was we weren’t trying to belittle JGR, we were kind of saying, anybody seen James?

By the way, for those who may think I’m crazy to think James would have ridden for MCR, I wasn’t. In fact James and I had very lengthy conversations about him joining our team and we were very close to putting a deal together but he opted for the Yamaha instead. And for the record, James and I have been in discussions about working together over the past couple of years as he is very desirous of being part of a non factory effort that can move in any direction they choose to.

MCR Boss

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10/18/2017 1:55 PM

colintrax wrote:

Thanks for stopping by and answering some questions.
I'm curious if yall have considered racing the outdoors or is this going to be a sx only team forever?

MCR Boss wrote:

As an owner and a team we love MX.
The problem is the cost of doing a 12 round MX series is two to three times the money as the SX series due to the extreme strain on the bikes and equipment.

When you combine the two series in terms of cost it gets really expensive. In addition to the high cost of MX, the ability to raise any outside the industry support is virtually impossible because of a difficult tv package, low attendance at the races.

The inside the industry support is very much directed towards the most popular teams, not always the most competitive, as evidenced in 2012 when mike had nine podiums, led the most amount of laps in series and finished second place in the championship.

To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams.

For these reasons, I think American MX is short lived and SX because of its business positives will end up being the only racing we have.

cvm wrote:

" To compound matters, the riders are really not as excited and desirous of racing week after week for thirty plus weeks in row. This rigourus schedule is in my opinion way to difficult mentally, physically and emotionally for the riders and the teams. "

THIS, while maybe true in 2017, makes me want to throw up. Isnt that why a MX'er is a fkn Badass next to a fat football/baseball player makin 20M/yr?

On my dime i'd like to have Roger, Bob, Marty (tripes & Smith), Damon & JS7 (Whoever u pic) at a dinner table. After a "few", id love to show this to them for the 1st time and see their reactions.. Can you imagine? Hannah would jump out of his chair & start throwing sh!t

At the end of the day from your perspective it's prob 90% a business decision & I respect you (& admire you're effort) for that, But, 30 min? To RD? w/5"travel? seriously????

Again, Thanks for all you do for the sport

When Outdoor Nationals Die, MOTOCROSS (not sx) will have died. Hope I'm dead before then......

Motocross racers are bad asses but the riigors of training, practice, travel and race at the current levels is huge.
The guys you mentioned were tough ass hell and did whatever they had to succeed but as they knew no different cuz there was no different but in today’s world things are different. The competition, the tracks, the intensity of training, the demands of nutrition, appearances, the amount of pressure to perform and more.

Couple all of the aforementioned things with testing beginning in late September until mid December, with racing starting January 1 until late August, then add in GPs and Des Nations for some and Monster Cup for most, in adddition to tireless travel and you’ve got a schedule that no athlete can hold up to.

It is my opinion and others that this schedule provides virtually zero time off to rest physically and mentally and therefore is major reason why guys are getting hurt a lot, as they are simply gassed out. This over doing it is a major reason why the great champions of the past ten years have either retired completely or gone to SX only, as they just can’t do it, or don’t choose to.

In regards to MX, something most fans don’t realize and take in to consideration is, we all can love it as much as we want to but it takes money and a lot of it to make things go and when there is not enough money to make things go, things just don’t go. This principle applies to the very hard working Coombs family who I respect, race teams, track owners and most importantly the riders. Simply put there’s no money in MX, or least not enough.

MCR Boss

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10/18/2017 2:09 PM

Johnny Depp wrote:

Thanks Mike for making yourself available to answer questions.
Where does the money come from, are you selling the products to help offset the cost or is this mostly your passion?

Any thoughts on the production rule, engine sizes and types, and the influx of electric bikes?

What are your thoughts on the degree of difficulty of the sport and tracks and it's result on your ability to have riders show up at the races to fulfill their obligation's?

The money comes primarily out of my own pocket. While we advertise our brands MotoConcepts and Smartop the dollars are from money my company earns on an annual basis. Hopefully we are getter ng some ROI on our effort but you really never know.

The whole bike homogulation rule and so on is a gigantic discussion that I’m not that passionate about because in my mind all the riders are running by the same rules so it’s a fairly even playing field. Don’t get me wrong, the good guys have the best stuff and it does make a diffence against another good guy but the lower tier guys that aren’t making night shows wouldn’t improve much even on the high level stuff. It’s not arrow it’s the Indian.

I do think the tracks are a little over the top in SX and are hurting to many guys and also making the racing less competitive. Something most people probably don’t know is that in the past the top top guys had a lot of say on how the track was that day. I. E. If a so called rider who was very influential and was very strong in the whooops wanted the them super tough and narly then that guy from another country down under would get them his way, which is really hard on the normal whoop rider.

MCR Boss

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10/18/2017 2:25 PM

Mit12 wrote:

First off thanks for starting the MCR team and taking the time to answer questions from the fans.
Rider image and factory team support. You have Vince Friese on your team, he is a good rider that seems to draw a lot of negative attention from the factory stars. Have you had any push back from factory teams about his actions and has it ever cost you support from the factories of other brands you have raced?

The reality is that even though Vince is at times vilianized, the teams and the riders in the paddock don’t really dislike Vince. Vince is super great person that is very likeable. The problem that people in the industry and outside of the industry have with Vince is they think he isn’t worthy of racing the so called top guys. There is bar bashing and dirty riding all over the track by many that never get challenged for it, but when Vince doesn’t roll over and move over because he is tough racer, people think he is committing some kind offence that others aren’t. If you search the files you will see that Vince has not been reprimanded in any way over the past three seasons for his riding, yet he still gets labeled as doing the dirty stuff, while the others are getting suspended. So if he’s the one causing all the rukess how come he’s not the one getting the penalty.

I’m not sure what factory support your referencing because MCR is the only team I know of getting factory support other then JGR being Suzuki’s factory effort,

Mit12

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10/18/2017 4:13 PM

Mit12 wrote:

First off thanks for starting the MCR team and taking the time to answer questions from the fans.
Rider image and factory team support. You have Vince Friese on your team, he is a good rider that seems to draw a lot of negative attention from the factory stars. Have you had any push back from factory teams about his actions and has it ever cost you support from the factories of other brands you have raced?

MCR Boss wrote:

The reality is that even though Vince is at times vilianized, the teams and the riders in the paddock don’t really dislike Vince. Vince is super great person that is very likeable. The problem that people in the industry and outside of the industry have with Vince is they think he isn’t worthy of racing the so called top guys. There is bar bashing and dirty riding all over the track by many that never get challenged for it, but when Vince doesn’t roll over and move over because he is tough racer, people think he is committing some kind offence that others aren’t. If you search the files you will see that Vince has not been reprimanded in any way over the past three seasons for his riding, yet he still gets labeled as doing the dirty stuff, while the others are getting suspended. So if he’s the one causing all the rukess how come he’s not the one getting the penalty.

I’m not sure what factory support your referencing because MCR is the only team I know of getting factory support other then JGR being Suzuki’s factory effort,

Well done. Thanks Mike.