We just got off the phone with Escondido Cycle Center’s team manager, Mike Craig. Rumors were flying that his team had signed two-time National Champion Steve Lamson to his 2003 revamped squad of riders. Rumor had it, that this brand new team would be paying out $1,000,000 to any of their team riders that could win a National, or SX title! After talking to Mike Craig, we have confirmed that the rumors are true.
TransWorld Motocross: Is it true that Team ECC has signed Steve Lamson for 2003?
Mike Craig: We just did it last week. We are so pumped to have a two-time National Champion in our line-up for 2003. For 2003, we have added Ryan Morias for 125 west. In the east, we will have Lammy riding a 250. Jeff Gibson and Robbie Horton will be our 125 representation in the east. Robbie Horton will also ride a 250 in the west.
TWMX: Will team ECC be the only Suzuki 125 factory effort for 2003?
MC: We might be. Right now, it looks like it is going to be split up between us and Motoworldracing.com. Escondido Cycle Center sells a lot of Suzukis and Motoworldracing.com is not a dealer. It’s a little political. The bottom line is that Suzuki has already committed to support our team with factory equipment for next year. I do not know if Motoworldracing.com will receive factory equipment or not. Being able to get factory equipment is what pushed Steve Lamson over the edge to sign with us.
TWMX: Can you tell me a little about that million-dollar title bonus that everyone has been talking about?
MC: Sure. Basically, it is a great way to get good riders to sign with you for less money. Lammy was a little on the heavy side compared to our other riders, but a past champion like him is well worth it. We figure when the series starts up, there will be a lot of press surrounding our riders with that kind of money up for grabs. I think it is a win, win situation for everyone involved. The riders have a chance to make big money, it makes a great story for the media and we get great exposure for our team and it’s sponsors.
TWMX: Have you solidified any sponsorship for the team next year?
MC: No. We want to give the sponsors that were on board with us this year, first rights if they want to still be a part of what we have going on. We want to be loyal to the sponsors that helped us when we were just getting on our feet. Since we have our riders signed early, we can now go and shop the whole package to potential sponsors. It makes it a lot easier. I think one of the reasons Escondido Cycle Center is enjoying tremendous success right now, is because ECC is the only dealer in the San Diego area that can sell the new Honda watercraft. Those things are flying out the door! Sales are up 170 percent over this time last year. The owner, Ron Ketchem is competition oriented, and he wants to win. We don’t want to be in back of the pack anymore. It was time to take it up a couple of notches from this year. Everyone is so happy with what is going on with the team for next year.
TWMX: How about you? Are you happy?
MC: I could not be any happier. To succeed in building and operating a race team like this, is a dream come true. The owner Ron and his family treat me really well. When I walk in, they go out of their way to say hello and thank me for what I have done with the team. It trips me out to be involved with such loyal people. In racing, you are only as good as your last race. With team ECC, it’s about who you are.
TWMX: Anything else you want to add?
MC: I want to thank Team ECC and our sponsors. Without them this would not be possible. In all my years of racing, I have never seen anything like what we have going on. In our second year of racing, we have a two-time National Champion. Our team is backed with factory support, and we are a threat to win. We want to win badly! All this, out of a motorcycle dealer in the San Diego area. I can’t wait until 2003!