This week Toyota announced that–through the Toyota Motocross Athlete Program–Sean Hackley was selected to move to the pros with a Toyota sponsorship and a ride on the Motoworld Racing PPG Yamaha Team.
Our sport is growing and reaching out to the mainstream more and more each year, and with that comes increased attention from what some might consider more “mainstream” companies as sponsors, advertisers, etc. The good news for the financial health of motocross, is that these companies are often larger businesses with greater potential to bring needed dollars into the industry.
A shining example if this type of relationship is Toyota. Toyota is of course the current title sponsor of the Toyota AMA Motocross Championships and has started TMX (Toyota Motocross), the Toyota Motocross Athlete Program.
According to Scotty LaLonde from TMX, the program is “designed to identify and reward amateur riders by helping them move forward in the sport.” We talked with Scotty to learn more about what is in store for Sean Hackley and the TMX program.
Scotty, thanks for taking time to talk to us today. The Toyota Motocross Athlete Program sounds amazing, and has created a great opportunity for Sean Hackley. Tell us more about the program and how it got started.
TMX started in spring of this year. Really it’s a grassroots program designed as a new way to move talented rider forward from the amateur ranks to the pros. We are looking for riders who are ready to take it to the next level, but need some additional support. The program offers not only a chance for amateur riders to get their name out there, but also provides access to info on personal training, working with the media and even the mental side of the sport. And of course for one lucky rider (Sean Hackley) to earn a ride on the Motoworld Racing PPG Yamaha pro team.
Earning a spot on a pro team is a huge reward, but I know there is even more to the program. Tell us about the rewards.
All eligible athletes enrolled in TMX have the chance to advance through the program by earning performance awards based on how they do in the Loretta Lynn’s area and regional qualifiers. By entering the program, riders receive valuable media exposure through their online profile, and five athletes are randomly featured on our website–www.toyotacross.com–each week. Plus everyone has the chance to win other TMX rider awards and apparel.
As riders compete in the Loretta’s qualifiers throughout the year, power rankings are used to determine the Toyota Top 20, heading into the Amateur National Finals. Then, from the Toyota 20, the Toyota Athlete is chosen by a panel of experts and Toyota and Motoworld Racing PPG Yamaha representatives. This year, Donn Maeda (Swap) helped us by sitting on our panel.
It sounds like the top 20 riders received some pretty cool benefits from Toyota during Loretta’s this year.
Yeah, we had all kinds of things going on, including daily clinics featuring personal trainers, media experts, info on handling sponors and tips on handling the pressures of turning pro. Gary Semics even ran a clinic on the mental preparation necessary to be successful in motocross. We have some cool plans to expand these clinics as early as fall of this year, so keep an eye out for us.
Sean Hackley has definitely been making a name for himself in the amateur ranks. How did he end up being selected as the Toyota Athlete this year?
Although Sean didn’t have a very good Loretta’s this year, he definitely showed great results during the season. He really displayed the rider talents, personality and charisma that our panel of experts was looking for. We are excited for Sean and look forward to seeing how he does moving up to the pro ranks. Sean will earn a salary on the Motoworld Racing PPG Toyota team and he also got a brand new 20006 Tacoma from Toyota.
I am certain every rider that reads this will be ready to sign up. Is anyone eligible for the program?
Anyone who meets the minimum criteria is welcome to join, and best of all entry into TMX is free. Riders must be amateurs, and must be 16 years of age by January 6, 2007 and compete in one of the following classes: 125 A/Pro Sport, 250 A/Pro Sport, 125 A, 250 A, 125 B Stock, 125 B Modified.
How do riders sign up and learn more about TMX?
Everyone should visit our website at www.toyotacross.com to learn more about the program and to sign up. We are already gathering entries for 2007, and have lots of big ideas in store for next year. Stay tuned!