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Host PJ Doran discusses the changes being made and what's to come at MotoAmerica and American Flat Track this year with Steve Jugan, the VP of Business Development and Partnerships with MotoAmerica (Starts at 05:20), and Michael Lock, CEO of American Flat Track (Starts at 20:21).
PJ Doran: Welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names in motorcycle racing right to you. I'm PJ Doran, and this week on Pit Pass, we're going to have Steve Jugan of Moto America fame and Michael Lock of the AFT.
PJ Doran: But first, I wanted to share some news with you. This weekend, big weekend, the first Triple Crown event of our Supercross series in Glendale, Arizona. As you know, the Triple Crown means that instead of heats, we do have qualifiers, but instead of heats, we have three main events in each of the classes, 450 and 250, and what a bang-up weekend. Mr. Ken Roczen, the comeback story of arguably all time does the triple. Wins race one, wins race two, wins race three. Eli Tomac absolutely kept him honest, made a real race of it in round one and round two, race one, race two.
PJ Doran: Tomac was there in second. In race three, Tomac had a little bit of a bobble. Managed to come home third, take second overall to Roczen. But it was Roxanne's night. He absolutely crushed it. Cheers to you, Ken Roczen. The comeback that is your career is continuing to amaze and astound anyone who's watching, and can't imagine your bosses at HRC Honda are anything less than overwhelmingly pleased.
PJ Doran: So Ken got the overall. Tomac came second with Anderson and third, resulting in season long points, so far, Roczen is now in the lead with 92 points. He's got the overall points lead. Tomac's sitting in a close second at 84. Barcia hanging on in third with 81.
PJ Doran: Moving on to the 250 class, it was a very good weekend for one Mr. Austin Forkner. He is a rebounding from a somewhat tough start in the 250 west series. Went one, one, and three on the night. He took first place in the first two races, came third in the third race to take the overall. Dylan Ferrandis, Mr. Consistency on the evening took second in all three races, and he is sitting then second in points in the 250 west series, just behind Cooper and just in front of Hartranft. The overall on the night then was, in the 250 class, Forkner with the overall, Dylan Ferrandis in second, and Michael Mosiman in third.
PJ Doran: That was a really interesting race. The Triple Crowns are always fun to watch. It's just a little different. The races are a little shorter. We get more of them. It's a unique series that they run within the series, these Triple Crown events.
PJ Doran: In road racing news, which I love to talk about, and so glad I have something to share, our hero and recent guest Josh Hayes won out of the four races at the International Island Classic in Australia, Josh Hayes was able to win race one and race four. He book-ended the four races, with Australian Alex Phillis taking race two and three victories.
PJ Doran: It was good performances by all of Team USA. Unfortunately for us, Australia nipped us at the line. They take the overall, defend their title in the International Island Classic, which is an incredible event. As Josh has shared with us, he continues to race it. He said he wants to race it until he dies. So kudos to you, Josh, for an impressive weekend, and all of Team USA, thank you for representing us so well.
PJ Doran: Hopefully this gives Australia something to build on, as we know they're nationally having some really serious issues with the fires. We all wish them the best, and, again, hopefully a bit of good news for on the weekend that they were able to defend their title.
PJ Doran: That pretty much wraps it up for the notable racing events on the weekend. We want to encourage you, our listener, though, reach out to us. We give you the opportunity via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even our own website, Pit Pass Moto. Get out there. Let us know who you'd like to hear us talking to, what you think about racing so far this season, and where you see racing going. We would take any input that you, the listener, have about who you want to hear us talk to you, and we will try and get them on, do our darnedest to bring them around.
PJ Doran: This week's trivia question on Pit Pass Moto is an interesting one. What year was the exhaust power valve introduced to production two stroke motocross motorcycles? Very specific there, production two stroke motocross motorcycles. We will be back with the answer later in our show.
PJ Doran: We are going to start the show with Mr. Steve Jugan, Moto America VP, recently hired from Monster Energy. We're going to discuss with him Moto America at large.
PJ Doran: All right. Welcoming to Pit Pass Modo Mr. Steve Jugan of Moto America. Steve, welcome to the show, and tell us what your position is within Moto America, wonderful national racing series that we have here in the US.
Steve Jugan: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for having me on. It's an absolute pleasure. So yes, my journey has begun at Moto America. Obviously, it's a very exhilarating time for Moto America and the sport. There's an incredible team of individuals here that are incredibly passionate about the future growth of Moto America, and it's exciting to be here. I'm glad to be part it.
PJ Doran: So Steve, as I understand, you are coming to Moto America from Monster Energy. Is that correct?
Steve Jugan: That is correct, yes.
PJ Doran: I was just going to say, did you have involvement with Moto America through your ... because Moto America and Monster Energy certainly have had business dealings together, it would seem, since day one.
Steve Jugan: Yeah, absolutely. So I did touch Moto America at one point, working with the kind folks over at Yamaha. They were looking to do a special promotion throughout the Barber race, and we had an opportunity to work with Bob Starr and Keith McCarty on putting together a retail pass-through program that essentially got the point of sale materials and local retail outlets throughm at that time, my field marketing managers and team. We were able to integrate them into retail accounts throughout that particular stop, and I believe, at that time, we had created some point of purchase materials around Josh Herrin, at the time, that worked out very well.
PJ Doran: Yeah, and that's a wonderful event, one of my favorites of every season. So let's talk about what you see as the future for Moto America. You're obviously operating in a marketing capacity, as I understand it. I presume your task is to make Moto America yet more visible through any of the numerous avenues that are available to our series to do that.
Steve Jugan: Absolutely. So I just would like to continue on by just giving a shout-out to my former colleagues over at Monster Energy and segue into your question. It was an absolute honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to work at Monster Energy, to be part of that team in the formative years. I have the utmost respect for my former colleagues and executive staff at Monster. They've done such an amazing job with motor sports, action sports industries as a whole, not to mention supporting race teams, athletes, manufacturers, and events.
Steve Jugan: With that said, having witnessed that and being part of my DNA from my years at Monster, that's exactly my focus here and my passion for a Moto America. As I mentioned at the beginning of this call, it's an incredibly exciting time for the team here and for Moto America. I look to leverage all of my experiences and successes at Monster in building a phenomenal program here with the Moto America team and supporting the series, the manufacturers, the athletes, and teams as well.
PJ Doran: So what I've always wondered about marketing from any sanctioning or bodies perspective, do you work at the track level? Are you going to be partnering with track organizations themselves, such as Barber?
Steve Jugan: So what I foresee developing is, first and foremost, building out our partnership program, which will entail, obviously, support at the track level. But the key is bringing in partners that are excited about the opportunity to work with an established brand such as Moto America, with the opportunity to work together in our partnerships to build brand awareness throughout each of the Moto America series stops and integrate that into our TV programming, social media packages, and our pass-through programs.
PJ Doran: Steve, I'm going to ask you a real hard one. Are you yourself a motorcyclist?
Steve Jugan: That's an easy one. Thanks for asking. I was very fortunate to grow up here in Southern California and spent many years racing in the pro open class motocross classes here throughout Southern California on what's now become legendary tracks, such as Carlsbad Raceway ...
PJ Doran: Yeah. Awesome.
Steve Jugan: ... Saddleback, Escape Country and, for those that go back as far as I do, the night races up at Orange County International Raceway, at the end of the drag strip.
Steve Jugan: So yes, I still continue to ride today. I have a dual sport and a 350 dirt bike and still get on the bike on a regular base and like to tour and ride.
PJ Doran: Well, then it would seem a good fit for you being involved in motorcycle racing. It helps, clearly, that the crew there at Moto America are making the right choices when they're hiring people.
Steve Jugan: Yeah, absolutely. I find also, on that note, that everybody here is like-minded, which just feels like home. It's amazing, this group of people.
PJ Doran: Yeah, it's hard not to get excited about the incredible racers, the incredible action that happens in our Moto America series. I'm personally a huge fan. Have been attending races since I had the funds and wherewithal to do so, which is well over 20 plus years now.
Steve Jugan: Outstanding.
PJ Doran: It's an amazing event to watch, and I just hope that more people are able through your efforts, presumably, to get to see what's going on. Has the TV package changed in any meaningful way? I myself thought it was very good last year, and I also take advantage of the online options that Moto America has made very reasonably priced for people.
Steve Jugan: Absolutely.
PJ Doran: So I had that, in addition to the wonderful TV coverage. Is it going to be something similar this season?
Steve Jugan: It's my understanding, correct. They're going to continue to develop the online entity and the television programming as a pass-through from last year, which will continue to incorporate Fox Sports, too, and NBC Sports Network.
PJ Doran: The best way to get in front of people clearly is television, in some form. It seems the world is, of course, going the way of the Internet, but television I think still ... Would love to hear your take, but I think television, major networks like NBC sports and Fox Sports, are our big ones, aren't they?
Steve Jugan: Absolutely, and it's critical, in my opinion, to get the message out and to get the passionate viewers access to the races that they love to see and support, if they're not at the track.
PJ Doran: So where are you based out of, Steve? Are you in ... You said So Cal. Still there?
Steve Jugan: Yes, still in So Cal, at the Moto America offices here in Irvine, near the John Wayne Airport.
PJ Doran: Nice. California weather. You cannot beat it. It is terrible here in the Midwest, so you're not missing a thing.
Steve Jugan: Yeah.
PJ Doran: So do you get to ... Season opener, Daytona ... Well, I guess that's not Moto America. Are there any events in the season that will incorporate other arms of professional American racing? Do you guys partner with anybody in that fashion, or no?
Steve Jugan: Well, certainly. I mean, the first one that comes to mind, of course, is Circuit of America is in Austin with MotoGP. We're running the entire format the same weekend as MotoGP at Circuit Americas. That's the one that I'm most familiar with, as far as partnering on track.
PJ Doran: You said you're running the full. So all classes of Moto America will be running at COTA?
Steve Jugan: That is my understanding. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I believe that it's going to have a full schedule.
PJ Doran: That's great news. In years past, I've been to that event a couple of times. It's been an abbreviated stop for the Moto America guys, simply because there's a schedule to be kept, and there's only so many hours in a race day.
Steve Jugan: Like I said, there still may be an abbreviated schedule, so I'm not 100% certain on that.
PJ Doran: It's still good to be included with them even if ... You feel bad for racers who might not get involved. It's good to get the Moto America guys on track with the MotoGP guys.
Steve Jugan: Oh, absolutely.
PJ Doran: It builds a lot of excitement, and that's a great event. Incredible facility. Have you been to many of the other facilities on the calendar?
Steve Jugan: I've been to several. Of course, with my years at Monster, I was at MotoGP quite often, supporting that race through customer marketing, retail programming opportunities, and partnerships.
PJ Doran: So that would have been like Laguna and/or Indianapolis?
Steve Jugan: Oh, absolutely Laguna. Yep, absolutely. We hosted many customers, clients, and VIPs at both tracks. Then, of course, one of my all-time favorites is Barber. That's just an incredible facility, and the history that just is within that building with the collection is just unbelievable.
PJ Doran: Yeah, it's hard not to love that place. On the marketing front, do you or Moto America at large see yourselves assisting riders? How do riders go about marketing themselves? Is that a partnership with the series, or are they fending for themselves? How does that interaction work?
Steve Jugan: We obviously have open door policy with doing anything we can to help anybody at any level in this partnership. So if the teams reach out and need some guidance on assisting them with information to help them close their own sponsorship deals and whatnot, we are more than willing to bend over backwards to help them, and, in the same breath, any partners that we're working with that want to do something on a team level, we will certainly pass that through to the teams for them to consider as well.
PJ Doran: Then I presume a healthy part of your job will be going into the marketplace and finding potential sponsors, actual sponsors, new industries.
Steve Jugan: Absolutely.
PJ Doran: I mean, are there industries that you're really focusing on that maybe haven't been touched historically, or is that a question that can't be answered yet?
Steve Jugan: No, I think that's a great question and a fair question. I think at this point in the development of the partnerships we really are looking ... Again, I think the most important key here is that we're looking for brands and partners that are passionate about motor sports and are looking to leverage our strength and abilities to help them get their brand message out, get their brands exposed to new consumers through our networking, our programming, our social media, our on-track opportunities, and getting the product in the hands of new consumers. So any emerging brands, whether it's energy or information and technology, local regional businesses that are growing that want to support local activities, we're looking for the types of partners that are the best fit to grow with us.
PJ Doran: That's exciting news. The series shows all signs of being ... Since the days that Crave took it over, they've really brought this series a long ways. It's been an interesting ride and fun to watch. How do you feel about the overall health of the series? Clearly, you must be a feeling pretty optimistic about it, as you took the job that's been put in front of you.
Steve Jugan: When you look at the teams and the commitments they have, the athletes, the professionalism of the grid, it's just beyond words how exciting it is to represent that type of commitment and passion in the sport, not only from the [inaudible 00:18:17] level and the riders, the manufacturers, but also this entity, Moto America. I can't stress enough how excited and committed the team is to building out a legacy with Moto America and the sport. It's just incredibly exciting and awe-inspiring to be here, knowing that everybody is fully committed to building upon the legacy of what's been created.
PJ Doran: Well, thank you, sir, for that very optimistic look at what will be hopefully a very interesting season. Thank you so much for joining us today, Steve. Thank you to everyone at Moto America. They don't get enough praise, in my estimation, simply because it's a thankless job, and no one's ever happy, it seems, until they're at a race. Then it's nothing but smiles.
PJ Doran: So thank you again for taking on the role that you have and hopefully bringing more light to the series, and please get ahold of us if you come up with something that needs to be shared. We love being another avenue for that information to get out to our listeners and to the world at large.
Steve Jugan: It's been an absolute pleasure being on your show, and thank you so much for your support. We'll see you at the races.
PJ Doran: See at the races. Thank you again, Steve Jugan, VP at Moto America.
PJ Doran: This week's trivia question on Pit Pass Moto question of the week was what year was the exhaust power valve introduced to production two stroke motocross motorcycles? I remember the bike well.
PJ Doran: The answer, of course, is the 1981 Yamaha YZ models. Yamaha really led the way and continues to do so in that era. Most notably, they brought the power valve. They also brought the mono shock to mass production. Again, kudos to Yamaha for changing the way we ride.
PJ Doran: We're going to bring up next on Pit Pass for your entertainment one Mr. Michael Lock of American Flat Track. He's one of the men in charge of AFT, the CEO. We look forward to talking to him.
PJ Doran: Welcome back to the show. What can you tell us? What do we got new and exciting? There have been some developments in your AFT series that I, as a fan, am looking forward to. What are the big news from your side of the fence there?
Michael Lock: There is a lot going on. I'm pretty sure I say that every year, but this year there really is. We've done a number of things to reshape the sporting side of the series, the actual racing. We've expanded the production twins class, so now it's running at all tracks except the three TTs. It's really found its place and its home in the series as a very legitimate third class.
Michael Lock: So we're very pleased about that. We've got a number of teams and riders hopping bikes over the winter season, both in the AFT Singles class, which, as I'm sure you'll agree, is a spectacle every week.
PJ Doran: It's been awesome.
Michael Lock: Yeah. The singles, I mean, we look forward to watching the singles. It is raw talent and very exciting to watch, and, like I say, we've got a little bit of seat-hopping going on there with some interesting names are going to be in the championship this year. We've tweaked a few things behind the scenes to try and keep the AFT Singles on track and keep it expanding.
Michael Lock: So we're looking with a little bit more of a critical eye at new license applications this year. We're really tightening up on the criteria, because what we want to do is we want to make sure that everybody who gets involved is, A, committed and, B, safe.
Michael Lock: So I think AFC Singles is going to be back better than ever this year, and, really, the jewel in the crown is what we've done with AFT Twins, is that we have repackaged and rebranded it a little bit to try and focus more attention on the stars and to try and elevate that sport into the world-class standard that we know it is, but much of the outside world doesn't yet know.
Michael Lock: So the repackaging of Twins into Super Twins is really going to focus attention on the glamour guys, on the glamour bikes, and we hope that we're able to deliver great racing for the fans, but also a great experience for all those involved who work very hard and spend their hard-earned money to to compete in that championship.
Michael Lock: So, on the sporting side, it's going to be spectacular this year. Last season was exciting, the season before, but this year, I think with the growing fan base and all the anticipation preseason, we're going to really hit fever pitch when we get to Bike Week in March.
PJ Doran: We're all looking forward to it. Can't wait. Month and a half away from Daytona. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I'm personally there, because I just am so stoked to see all the series that will be visible while one is there. How many years, I forget, Michael, have you been involved in AFT?
Michael Lock: This is my fifth season. The first year, I worked for much of the year as a consultant to the business and came in-house and took up a management position at the end of that first year. But yeah, this is five years down now.
PJ Doran: So you were coming in probably right in lockstep with Indian. Is that right? Does that timing work out about right, or did you predate Indian?
Michael Lock: They hadn't kicked off the project yet when I joined, but they were in contact very soon afterwards to explore what the possibilities were in flat track for them. It's an aggressive brand and seeking to reestablish their name in the marketplace, and they saw flat track racing as a fast route to get there.
Michael Lock: So they contacted us early on in the project to really work out a strategy, and they came onboard in ... I think they first raised in 2016, right at the end of the season. Joe Kopp rode the first bike for them, and then they had the factory team in 2017 and '18 and '19. Now they have half the bikes in the twin paddock.
PJ Doran: Yes, and a dynasty was born literally on day one. I find it interesting, Michael, that your involvement, since your involvement five short, or long, depending on what day of the week, probably, from your perspective, you've brought in two new manufacturers, arguably that had no previous involvement, KTM being the other huge player in any paddock that they get into with their efforts and muscle.
PJ Doran: I mean, it's been incredible to see what they're doing in every form of racing, but particularly in AFT. Have they given you any, as a fan and as a dealer of said KTMs, have they given you any inklings that they might someday want to go to the big boy class? Because they certainly have the muscle, wherewithal, and power to do something like that.
Michael Lock: Well, I have a lot of conversations with KTM management, primarily here in the US, but also in Europe. I've visited with the European head office a couple of times, really, to tell the story of flat track, and I don't think it's any secret, because I believe even the chief executive of the group gave a speech at the Milan show last year, outlining their midterm strategy for their group, and they favor getting into the twins as soon as they can with a competitive package.
Michael Lock: I don't know when that will be. It may even be as early as this year for some selected rounds or next year with a full team, but what they've already said, which was something quite interesting, is that they share technology within their groups. So KTM and Husqvarna both share technology, and it may be that it's a Husqvarna team in twins and a KTM team in singles. That's not beyond the realms of possibility, certainly, from the words that have come from their chief executive. So we wait with bated breath.
PJ Doran: That is exciting news. Thank you for sharing that. Clearly, again, just everything they've touched, it's good for the series, is the long and the short of it. They bring real panache and just an uber professional organization to any paddock that they join.
Michael Lock: They really do, and they set an example in our paddock. Their debut season was 2019. It feels like they've been around forever ...
PJ Doran: I know, right?
Michael Lock: ... but they've actually only been here for a year. Chris Fillmore, who's the team manager, is a very likable guy, super smart and very competent himself on two wheels.
PJ Doran: Absolutely.
Michael Lock: It was his rookie season.
PJ Doran: Yeah, his Pike's Peak runs are things of lore.
Michael Lock: Oh, yeah. They are, indeed. Like I say, Chris is a likable guy. We get along very well with him, and his rookie season didn't look that rookie to me. They had Dan Bromley and Shayna Texter riding for them, arguably the two most talented riders in that singles paddock. They didn't win the championship in their rookie season, but they were in the mix. Dan was in the mix, and Shayna does what Shayna always does, which is these incredible, thrilling victories, which she seems to pluck out of nowhere. They just announced this week that she has renewed for another two seasons, so I think she's getting comfortable in that saddle.
PJ Doran: Absolutely. When she's on, it's impressive. Gender's the last thing you think about when Shayna Texter's really hauling the mail. It is how fast that person is going on a motorcycle. That's all that you can think.
Michael Lock: Yeah, and not just on the straights. You look at her corner approach when she's riding up front and in the mix, Shayna's is a terrier. Gets the biggest gasps and cheers from the crowd everywhere we go.
PJ Doran: Yeah, she'd be a natural-born road racer as well. Clearly has zero fear. She really excels. It seems the longer the track, the faster she gets. High-speed cornering is her forte, and it just bodes really well for the whole series, the excitement that not just her, I mean, all of the racers.
PJ Doran: I think the approach that you're describing of marketing the racers to build the excitement around them is definitely paying off. I mean, I see it when I go to the races. It's the stepping stone approach that, as you mentioned, you brought in the Production Twins class, and it's becoming a bigger part. Is there a stepping stone approach that seems to be paying off? It seems like the feeder class structure is working.
Michael Lock: Well, look. The strategy from the beginning was what I would call a pyramid strategy, that the singles class is the most accessible and has the biggest participation. Then there is a route through that to Production Twins, to get used to riding a fundamentally different motorcycle. But before, you have to take on Briar Bauman and Jared Mees, and there is a route up into Super Twins from there.
Michael Lock: So I think we've removed some of the opaqueness that there always was in flat track. We made it a little simpler and hopefully more accessible. You referenced the manufacturers. I'm hearing that loud and clear from the OEMs, is that the flat track, for many of them, was always a bit of a black art. They didn't really have the expertise, and the sport spoke a very complicated language to people outside it as well.
Michael Lock: So we tried to simplify that to get a richer blend of participation from different machines and different types of riders, and that certainly is paying off. We've had a few refugees come to us and try us out from road racing or from Supercross or motocross as the excitement in AFT has risen. I don't see any barrier to that continuing to richen the sport.
PJ Doran: No, I think it's great health that outside race, who honestly started their careers, most of them in flat tracking, the JD Beaches, Jake Lewis ... The Moto America paddock is full of American flat track racers. Whether they're actively campaigning or not, it is completely chockfull of American flat track racers.
Michael Lock: It is, and ultimately, as much as we all love the romanticism and the excitement of the sport, it's a business as well. For a long time, no one could look you straight in the face and say that pro flat track was a business. It survived by clinging on by its fingernails and by the generosity of a number of benefactors of the sport, but that's not sustainable.
Michael Lock: So for me, one of the biggest barometers of our forward momentum is more manufacturers, broader mix of riders, more venues, and, frankly, the in-house AFT paddock. They all take training in the winter very seriously now, not only of their bodies and their minds, but also their machines. There's crew jumping from team to team, because there are skills that are sought after and prized.
Michael Lock: So it's becoming a bit more familiar to me as a professional motor sport than it was five years ago. The racing is probably just as exciting now as it was then. But all the layers of the onion around the actual [inaudible 00:31:22], which were very malnourished, are starting to look a bit healthier now.
PJ Doran: So, Michael, if it's not taboo and you're willing to discuss it, to what extent is DMG still ... What is the relationship to the series that I presume they still, in great part, own? Is that an inaccuracy?
Michael Lock: No, DMG is the trading title for our company, Daytona Motor Sports Group. We are the owners of the rights for pro motorcycle racing, not only flat track, but also hill climb, and we license out road racing to Moto America. We work with MX Sports and with [inaudible 00:32:01] Supercross and motocross.
Michael Lock: So we are the owners of professional motorcycle racing in the US. Flat track is the only one that we actually manage in house. We saw the greatest opportunity for growth, long-term, with this most American of motorcycle sports. We felt that that was something that we hadn't celebrated enough, and, obviously, we've been working very hard to correct that. So that's the ownership structure. We own the rights to everything, but we manage flat track in house.
PJ Doran: Understood, and thank you for the education on that front. I find it interesting, historically, how all of our national racing series have developed and are all seem to be finding their own path and the best way forward. Certainly, you folks have done an amazing job with AFT. It's only grown in your tenure, so I have to assume that you get really nice Christmas baskets from your employer.
Michael Lock: I'm still waiting on the Christmas basket. Joking aside, we're really closing the first chapter of the long-term strategy that we laid out five years ago, and that first chapter was to right some wrongs, make the sport more accessible and simpler to understand to the outside world, who is 99.5% of the US population. We needed to reach out to them, both physically, by taking races all over the country to places we'd never been to before, but also by changing the language of the sport and making it more accessible.
Michael Lock: We've come to the end of that first chapter. Super Twins describes the start of the second chapter, which is to really grow the sport by having a really solid product. I'm a bike guy. I've been involved in bikes all my adult life, and I've worked with bikes and most of it. But, ultimately, we are putting together a product and trying to sell it to America. Ours happens to be on two wheels and round dirt tracks, but America has to respond to that and buy that, one way or another, either by buying a ticket or by watching on NBC or watching, streaming on the new Track Pass joint venture that we and NASCAR and NBC are put together.
Michael Lock: We need to get America to buy this sport, because, ultimately, and I've learned this in five years, is that what I am selling to the fan in the stand is racing. What I am selling to potential partners to the sport who can bring muscle and big databases and money, what I'm selling to them is not the sport. I'm selling the audience to them.
Michael Lock: Five years ago, we could count, if we were really optimistic, about 100,000 people across America, across the whole season, who followed flat track. Well, 100,000 doesn't sound bad, except that now it's five million.
PJ Doran: Yeah, that's ginormous.
Michael Lock: Five million. Five million means I can talk to blue chip companies who would like to get involved in motor sport, and I can't overestimate how important that is, that we need a truck partner. We need an energy beverage partner. We need all kinds of partners to help us grow the sport, because what they bring is they bring muscle to the communications.
Michael Lock: This second chapter starting, because we've now got a great relationship with Caterpillar, for example, not known tremendously in motor sports, but they do some work in NASCAR. But they're a heavy equipment company. Why are they interested in us? Two reasons. One is they can help us build the track and tell the story about that, which gives authenticity to the partnership. Number two, Caterpillar's audience, the people who make purchase and rental decisions on heavy equipment, guess what? They look like our audience.
PJ Doran: They absolutely do. That's a natural fit.
Michael Lock: So these are some of the things we do, generally in the background, trying to develop the commercial footing and stability of the sport, but they're super important. The things that your listeners are mainly interested in is the rules of the sport and where the rounds are and what controversy goes on at a race. That's the entertainment. That's very important. But that's largely provided by all the good people of the paddock. What we bring in the series is to try and steer the ship in a direction towards financial stability and safety for all the people involved in the sport. So we don't talk about it that much, but it really occupies an enormous amount of our time.
PJ Doran: Well, kudos to you on the completion of that task, Michael, because you're doing a famous job, I would argue, and it's just been a pleasure watching the series grow. Clearly, you've done your homework and continue to do it. I'm looking forward to the new chapter, as you're describing it, of AFT racing, and some of my personal favorite racers are in the series, still involved with the series, throughout your paddock. It's just been an exciting development to watch. What are you most looking forward to this season? Is there an event that most rings true for you?
Michael Lock: Yeah, no doubt. It's been a plan, if you like, almost a dream since starting in this organization to somehow have an opportunity to marry together more than one motorcycle series, to try and make a connection, because our bike industry is very diverse. But there's one thing we all love: two wheels and an engine.
Michael Lock: So Bike Week this year sees us double header on Saturday, the final Saturday at Bike Week, in the stadium at Daytona International Speedway, with both the Daytona 200 and the AFT Daytona TT, both on the same day. One ticket gets you two of the most incredible motorcycle races in the world. I've wanted to do that for five years, and this year, we get to realize that.
PJ Doran: That is awesome. We were talking about it with our previous guest, and I was talking about in our new segment, that Bike Week this year is just going to be about the best Bike Week ever.
Michael Lock: There were some indicators to Bike Week, and I don't believe they're all scientific. But I work in Daytona Beach, and I keep my ear to the ground. Hoteliers are telling me that they're sold out this year in Bike Week. Lots and lots of hotels are already sold out, and that is bucking the trend of the last few years. So I think it's going to be a great Bike Week.
PJ Doran: Well, we look forward to it, Michael, and thank you so much for joining us today on Pit Pass. We truly appreciate you taking the time, and I personally speak for our listeners when I say just keep doing what you're doing. It's great. It's a series that no longer has a question mark around it. It's a series that is literally exciting, and its future is also just as exciting. So thank you again, Michael.
Michael Lock: Yeah, pleasure. Nice speaking to you today.
PJ Doran: In upcoming news here on Pit Pass, we can look forward to Supercross returning. The battle returns to California yet again, going to Oakland this weekend, and the following week, there'll be back in San Diego. So they had a short hiatus in Arizona, returning to the motherland in California.
PJ Doran: Looking forward to what Ken Roczen's got next. He's going to have a fight on his hand. There are a number of guys waiting for him out there on the track, Tomac, Barcia. The list is long, and, Roczen, cheers to you, man, for the comeback. It'll be a season to remember forever.
PJ Doran: Thank you again to our guests, Steve Jugan of Moto America and Michael Lock of AFT, for joining us today on Pit Pass. I want to thank you personally for listening and tuning in. We really appreciate it. If you've enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app, where you'll get alerts when new episodes are uploaded. Of course, make sure you're also following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and, of course, pitpassmoto.com.
PJ Doran: This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. I'd like say a special thank you to Ed Cohencamp, social media contributor Chris Bishop, our producer Leah Longbrake, and audio engineers Sean Rural Hoffman and Eric Coltnow. I'm PJ Doran. We'll see you next week here on Pit Pass.