“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work” | Stephen King
The old adage, “Hard work pays off”, stands the test of time. Daniel Blair is a great example of this. He would admit during his professional racing career this didn’t always hold true. But he learned and evolved from that. When he decided to start Eagle Grit, he researched and developed one of the best hand cleaners on the market. When Daniel had the opportunity to do tv for Supercross, he studied the best commentators and analysts in professional sports, hired a top level tv coach, and continues to strive for perfection. He never settles. Today DB has a new venture that no doubt he will work hard at and find success. He took some time recently to tell us all about it.
For the full interview, check out the YouTube video right here. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.
Jamie Guida - Vital MX: There have been a lot of big changes in the last few months for you. You made the move to South Carolina and now a new gig.
Daniel Blair: It's been kind of a blur if I'm being honest. But today the realization set in. I dropped my kids off at school out here in South Carolina, bro. This is home for me now. So yeah, it's all starting to feel real.
Vital MX: You were at Loretta Lynn's all last week, which I found interesting because your son was not racing. Tell us why you were there. What changed in your life recently?
Daniel: Oh, nothing. I wanted to go and watch a bunch of amateur kids. Obviously, I'm being funny. I am now the new Team Manager for Orange Brigade. I started at Loretta Lynn's, of all places. It was an interesting week for sure. I have so much to learn and understand about the job, but day one was day one of Loretta's. There was a lot to process. I was there to inspire the riders that we have on the roster and start scouting for the future. It was a crazy opportunity that came my way and I'm super grateful for it. I had nothing to do with all the wild stuff, but it's been fun to watch it with a notepad and a pen, trying to figure out all the different things that go on in amateur racing.
Vital MX: How did this come about?
Daniel: It starts back in early July when I got a call to go to the Orange Brigade Loretta Lynn's Camp, where all the riders get together. The reason I was brought in was to focus on the media side and coach the kids on their interviews and do a little role play and have fun with it. I went there for that, ended up doing some on the bike coaching as well, met all the families, met all the riders, and I was super stoked to be there. Then some conversations started happening where there was a possibility that there was a job opening at Orange Brigade. I threw out my interest lightly, not pressing too hard, but letting them know I'd be interested in that gig. Then I let it go and didn't think anything of it until I got a phone call, and the call was amazing. It was, “Hey, you can do Supercross TV, you can live in South Carolina, and if you want this job, we can make this happen. The families are behind it and we're behind it. If you want it, let's roll”. The next thing you know, I was hired and on my way to Loretta Lynn's to start day one as opening ceremonies were kicking off.
Vital MX: I know that dealing with the youth is important to you. So, it makes sense that this would be a good position for you. But what was it that interested you in this position?
Daniel: At first, I didn't know why I was so interested. I feel like some of these families have been led down the wrong paths or misguided. I'm talking about decades of this. But as I started thinking about it, I realized the real draw was my past experiences and how bad I believe things went for me at the end of my amateur career and into my pro career. I feel a little bit of an obligation to take this job and do my part and help these families avoid some of those struggles and those bad decisions. I really look at the job as an opportunity to right a wrong that was done in my own life. If I could have an impact on one kid or five or ten families and help them avoid problems and steer their career in the right direction, I want to do that. My biggest strength coming in is I do know how to not do it right. These families have spent so much money and so much time preparing for the opportunity to be a pro, and that if the decisions aren't made correctly in those last two to three years the whole thing could unravel and be over in a blink of an eye. As a commentator for supercross, I've watched these kids come in and fail and it breaks my heart every single time.
Vital MX: Does that also include the Gas Gas and Husky brands?
Daniel: Yes. I'll be representing the House of Brands. All three are going to be equally important to me. I understand that there's a company structure in place that I'm learning about every single day. I must navigate where to put each rider and get them lined up in the pipeline of where I may see them as they enter their pro career. For them to have the faith in me to take this role on and hopefully allow me to instill my vision along with theirs makes me grateful.
Vital MX: You mentioned Loretta's being your debut as the team manager. Discuss how the week went with the riders and yourself.
Daniel: First off, I had a prior obligation on Friday in Nashville to do some TV commentating for a Jet Ski Invitational event. So, I had to leave late Thursday and skip all of Friday. I'd like to start by expressing my frustrations with all my successful riders who decided to just go on a string of victories and start racking up titles left and right while I was gone. Literally, I'm there all week, sweating and in the trenches, and then I leave for a day, and we started winning title after title after title. I'm like, “Guys really, come on, man. I'd like to be there with you all”. I’m joking and I'm super proud of all the riders that were able to find success. But I think the most impactful part for me was dealing with the families that didn't have that success and reassuring them that Loretta Lynn's is not the only race on the schedule that matters. The kids that had all the success, they've done all the work. I had nothing to do with any of their preparation whatsoever. I was happy to give them a knuckle bump and say, “Good job”. But I felt like I really needed to be there for the families that didn't have the best week. Those are the people that need the attention the most and really look for guidance when things don't go well. The ups were cool, but the downs were more impactful for me.
Vital MX: Is that your primary goal, making this a family unit? What is you vision for The Orange Brigade one year, five years down the line?
Daniel: I think at the pro level it's more about the individual. Money is involved, bonuses, championship branding, sponsors, etc. The whole game changes as soon as you turn pro. At the amateur level it's the entire family. The mom, the dad, grandma, grandpa, sister, brother. They're all involved in this chase of a dream. I don't want to sign a rider. I'm signing a family and working with them closely on understanding the ins and outs of the sport. That way, when the kid gets a chance to go pro, they have a lot of education, a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience, and they can make all the pro decisions that they're going to need to make. They could be doing their own thing, but instead they sacrifice everything for their kid. And their hope is that the kid's going to make it someday and become a pro and become a champion. I've been through these wars and trenches before. I know exactly what they're going through.
Vital MX: Many ‘major sports’ have classes to teach the players going from the College level to the Pros how to handle the press, finances, and more. Do you plan to implement anything like that?
Daniel: I don't plan on implementing anything mandatory, but I'll obviously offer it to everybody. I want to help them with everything that they could possibly question. And I've already been doing that. A lot of families have called me and said, “What do you think about this? What do you think about that?”. And I'll always offer my opinion, my advice, and my experience. But at the end of the day, I'll always put it back on the family to make that decision. A few years back I was working with Jacob Hayes very closely. He is one of my best friends now. Our relationship has developed further than me taking him under my wing, which is what I did originally. And I told him something in the very beginning and I stuck with it all the way through. “I will tell you everything that I know about the topic, both sides of the coin, every angle. I'll try to educate you with everything that I know. But at the end of the day, you must make the decision on what you want to do. I'm never going to make the decision for you”. And that worked for us. If any of the families want to call me on money management, social media advice, media training, anything under the sun, I'm there for them. But it's going to be their call and what they decide to do.
Vital MX: Will you be involved with the ‘on bike training’ at all?
Daniel: 100% available always. I'm going to work with Daxton Bennick for a couple of days as he prepares for the Combine at Iron Man. I love the Bennick family. They reached out and asked for my guidance over the next week or two. I didn't even let him finish the sentence before I said “yes”. I'm treating this job with an all-in mentality. Obviously, Saturdays at 7:00, I'm going to probably be a little busy, so I might not be able to offer guidance for about a three-hour period on Saturday nights, but other than that, I'll be wide open.
Vital MX: Are you saying you’re locked in to be back with Supercross for Saturday's?
Daniel: Locked in isn't the right term. It's still the off-season schedule right now, and they have some things that they have to work through before they get to me. But yeah, I'm all good. I had some of the other manufacturers and the AMA come up to me and say, “Wait, does this mean you're done with TV?”. And I said, “No, we're all good”. I told Feld about the job, and they were super ecstatic. You have to think about it from their point of view. They're trying to help develop the next generation of stars with the Futures program. For me to be in this position, I think they trust that I'll be able to guide these families correctly.
Vital MX: With all the hard work you've done and the reputation you've built, it turned into something that you never even expected. And I just can't tell you how happy I am for you and the family.
Daniel: Well, I appreciate that. I don't want to use this opportunity to try to force beliefs on people, but I really am grateful to God that he was able to lay this foundation and path out for me. I talked to my wife about it today and I just can't believe the way things lined up. I was able to sell Eagle Grit to one of my good friends who I know is going to take care of the business that I helped found and create. And he'll be able to take it to a level that I don't think I could have ever done. I'm grateful for that which led to the opportunity to move to South Carolina. I love where I live, my house, my neighborhood, everything about where I live. Then to land the perfect job for me, the dream job to be in a management role with amateur racers and give them a chance to fulfill and chase their dreams. I just don't see how all these dominoes can drop so perfectly without heavy influence from God.