SPY Optic’s Victor Sheldon has earned his place in the industry. The former JetSki World Champion and close friend to Jeremy McGrath started his career in motocross as a rider rep for ThorMX before his current role as the Motorsports Marketing Manager at the eyewear company. We stopped in to SPY on our way to the TW office earlier this week to chat with Sheldon on his role at the company and what we can expect in the coming months.
What is your job title at SPY and how long have you been here?
I have been here for two years and I am the Motorsports Marketing Manager. I oversee all of motorsports, including car racing and Snocross. But mostly moto, because that is what we try to do the most with. It is one of our higher percentages of value.
That is what they started as; a motocross goggle company….
Yeah, exactly. When they hired me, they wanted to get back to their “roots,” and with that said, we have been doing a lot with moto. But we have also been doing a lot with motorsports, with Dale Jr., Ken Block, and doing more with up-and-coming NASCAR guys. That arena is a crazy portion of exposure value and a lot of people know our brand as a motorsports brand. It has been really important to get back to that.
SPY has done some very cool things with moto lately, like the video shoot with Jeremy, Kevin, and Antonio Cairoli at Jeremy’s ranch last year and then more recently the Del-Moto Derby. How do you come up with the idea for something like the Del-Moto Derby?
At that time, my boss wanted to see an event from each segment we do; a wakeboard segment, a surf segment, a snow segment. We wanted to do events, so when I had the opportunity to do my event, I felt that it was bringing back moto to Southern California at a local level and I jumped right on it. The people at the Del Mar Fairgrounds worked hand-in-hand with Lew Lawrence and myself and we put on a really good event that from start to finish was planned in less than 45-days.
It was really cool, too, since it was held during the Del Mar Fair.
Yeah, right in the middle of the fair. I felt that was the best time to do an event, when all of the people were there. It is a lot easier to get people into when they are there. There were a couple of key points that needed to happen to give us that date, so we had to jump on that opportunity or wait until the following year. From that day, it was straightforward. I came in and met with you guys, because you were the media partner and you said, “We’ll help, but you don’t know what you are getting in to.” (Laughs)
Promoting an event is a serious challenge!
Those are challenges we all like to do. We all ride and take on challenges, so when someone says that you can’t do something in that time, it just fuels the fire.
What is new for SPY on the moto front?
We do have a new rider coming. We signed him at the Las Vegas Supercross, so he has been signed for a long time but we haven’t done a press release. We are doing it at the right time and not step on anyone’s toes. He is a premier, exciting guy. The word is kind of out there, but we are keeping it under our hats. Our company, as far as moto goes, will be wrapped around him and a few other guys. We have an interesting team. Jeremy has been with SPY since 1994, and Kevin isn’t too far off of that. We have supported them since the heyday of their career to when they are hanging out and riding.
And then you just wrapped up the MX1 World Championship.
Yeah, with Tony Cairoli. He has been on our team for two years now and is a joy to work with. He is super easygoing and helps us with the technology in our goggles as we strive to make them better.
How big of an impact does having a guy like him have on your overseas sales? In Europe, you see brands that we don’t have over here, lots of strange brands. Did SPY’s sales pick up when you got someone of his caliber there?
They do. It is a great marketing tool to have. He rides over here, is known in the US, and is known in Europe. We are doing something different with our distribution program in Europe, so having guys like that make it necessary for people to have it in the right places to buy it. With that said and our new business campaign there, we hope to see a bigger impact, but we have had some really good opportunities for him to grow.
What do you have coming, product wise?
We have a new goggle coming, which will be better than what we have ever done. We are looking forward to that. Our guys will transcend to that goggle, because they are the ones that will be the ambassadors it. They are helping us design it, so it is truly produced by our top riders.
We are well aware of your status on the watercraft front, but for those that don’t know, give us the fifty-cent wrap up. How many World Championships have you won?
I won eight World and National Championships in a 15-year span of a career. Jetski racing gave me everything I have today and those are great memories. I was fortunate to race in it during its heyday, when it was actually called a sport. It is pretty depressing to see it today, but we all have to move on.
You are one of the guys that on a dirt bike, have gotten faster as you have gotten older. That is usually not the case. How have you managed to improve your skill level? Because you are best friends with MC and ride with someone of that caliber?
People say that all the time, and yeah I get to watch Jeremy ride, but he is on a whole other level. I think the biggest thing that helps me being friends with Jeremy is going out and riding more. But sometimes his tips are a little too encouraging (Laughs). He makes things look so easy and that gets me in trouble some times. “Just hit it in third and give it a little throttle at the bottom.” It’s not that easy. I have surprised myself a couple of times, but I think it comes from riding more. Motocross for me is one of the hardest sports there is, because it takes time to get better. I started really late, so I have think I have just progressed with time. Moto is a dangerous sport and I have been working in the industry for a long time, so I am a rare case, but I feel like I can see things well. I want to be known as irreplaceable (Laughs).