TWMX All Access: Active 8 Racing

If you’re a casual fan who has attended an National or Supercross in the last couple years, you may have spotted the big Active 8 rig parked in the pits and wondered what they’re all about. In a nutshell, Active 8 is a racing services company that deals with pro privateers, helping them out with gear that they might need on a weekly basis, but don’t have with them.

Active 8 is the brainchild of Brian Berry, who has been involved in the sport for the last 15 years or so. Brian spent probably ten of those years working for John Dowd, as his long-time mechanic, all the way through his factory Yamaha years. He also spent a couple seasons working for Team Suzuki with Danny Smith and Damon Huffman, before going to work with Smith Optics as a marketing manager, and taking care of their riders. That’s where Brian picks up the tale. “When I was working at Smith, I kind of always wanted to have my own business…that was the ultimate goal when I left being a mechanic. I saw an opportunity to maybe have a Smith truck with Renthal or some other company that needed representation at the races. I was playing around with ideas for the cost of a truck and all that. I brought it to Smith, and in the meantime I was talking to other people about the idea. Shawn Norfolk from Renthal thought that it’d be great to have people at the races. He had done something similar with another company called Competition Direct.”

“Finally, Smith decided that they liked the idea, but they wanted their own truck and they wanted me to work out of the truck for them. That wasn’t what I wanted to do. Everything went really well with Smith, and I still have a really good relationship with them, but it got me started. I picked up Renthal and Mechanix Wear, we also started talking to Pro Circuit, and Twin Air got involved, and we now have a lot of different services in the truck. That’s basically how it got started. I kind of wanted to do something to be at the races, and help with the races, but I didn’t want to own a team. With teams, unfortunately, a rider gets hurt and your whole series goes down the drain, and you lose your sponsor. This was more of a long-term type of thing.”

As Brian explains, within the confines of the 44-foot dual level trailer that houses Active 8 on race weekends, there is quite a variety of products. “We just took on Pirelli tires, which will be our new thing for next year. Renthal has been with us since the very start of this thing, and Pro Circuit was pretty much right behind them. Those are the three big ones.”

“For the next three, I’d say one that’s important to us because of the traffic we get is with Twin Air. We do a filter exchange program where if you buy up to four filters at the beginning of the season, you can exchange them all year long. You bring four dirty ones to us, and we’ll give you four clean ones, oiled and ready to put in the bike. I think we have almost every privateer at the races using that stuff, unfortunately, even some of them that are sponsored by other companies come over and get those, and use those other filters they get for other things. I don’t know that for sure, but it seems like there can’t possibly be that many guys who don’t have sponsorship help, you know?”

“We also have a glove exchange program with Mechanix Wear. Pit boards and tool bags are big with them. We do Motion Pro tools, so the mechanics are taken care of with the T-handles and quite a selection of the neat little moto tools that Craftsman doesn’t make, and they have a really good line of cables. We do Sunline/ARC and Ride Engineering, we have Spectro oils in the truck, 661…all their protective gear. ”

The question that most riders are obviously interested in is how they can buy from Active 8, but as Brian explains, it’s a pretty exclusive club. “Essentially, you have to have a hard (AMA Pro) card. Obviously, a lot of the guys we know who they are and they don’t have to show us their card, but you ha to be a professional racer. You can’t be an amateur kid. We’ve set these deals in place so these riders can buy this stuff way cheaper than even a dealer can get it for. That’s why we can’t advertise, really, outright with the prices, because it’s a sponsorship situation, and not something you can advertise. It would just upset the dealers. We’re only taking care of riders with hard cards, who race the Nationals. But it is a discounted price, and it does save them a lot of money.”

“Once we get to know you, we hand you flyers with more mail order certificates, and you can call, fax, or e-mail to order, and we can do the same price as on the road. We can send stuff out to your door so that you’re not just sponsored on the race weekends. The idea is to get these guys to use products from whoever is helping them out, and use it all year. Some of these guys are big heroes in their local area, so it’s a good way of sponsoring them. A lot of guys don’t even bother sending resumes.   Especially back in New England, some of their top rides will come over and buy product from us. We’ll ask, ‘You’re not sponsored?’ They’ll say, ‘I sent out a resume to one guy, and didn’t get anything back…’ Back East, they’re definitely struggling a little more for the help. We’ll have guys come up and buy six sets of handlebars, so they’re good for the next few months until they see us again.”

Often when you hear of mechanics getting away from wrenching, it’s because they’re tired of the grind of traveling. While that wasn’t the case with Brian, it has worked out well. “John Franco and I switch up every other weekend or thereabouts. We probably do two events a month instead of four. You eliminate all the testing schedule that you have on the road when you’re a mechanic. You eliminate the going back home and working on the rider’s practice bikes if they don’t live in California. That was one of the things I dealt with for Dowd, I’d have to go back and work on two junk practice bikes in his garage. I’m from there, too, so it worked out well to see family and friends, but some guys are just going back to some town and working on a bike.”

“My travel is now much less. It’s more reminiscent of a mechanic doing a 125 West Supercross series, where it’s maybe eight races out of a season. You get the satisfaction of being there, but not burnt out where it’s every single weekend. That’s where the burnout happens.”

“As a mechanic many times you’re back in the shop Monday morning already tearing a bike apart again. That gets a little tough. Where I’m at now, I go into the office and Mondays are usually pretty busy, but at least it’s not a 14-hour day on Monday. Each company wants something different. Some want a race report after the weekend, and for others it’s just ordering product.”

It’s cool to hear that Brian’s both enjoying what he’s doing, and helping out privateers at the same time. “I’m getting the satisfaction of having guys at the racetrack, or calling in for an order saying, ‘Man, you’ve really helped out my season this year.’ Handlebars and sprockets and exhausts, it gets expensive. Nowadays with these four-strokes, you’re looking at almost a thousand dollars retail for one of the titanium systems. That’s for any company. With the twin exhausts for the 250F, who knows that that thing’s going to be? It definitely saves them a lot of money.”

“Sometimes I feel like we get shaded a little, because we’re not giving a bunch of money, and there’s not a bunch of press around this thing. In all reality, there have been occasions where we’ve set these contracts up, and I’ve told manufacturers, ‘You guys have gone up in price, but I don’t want it to go up for the rider,’ and I just take the hit myself on what we make at the track. I like to think that we’re doing a pretty good job for these privateers, and we work hard to take care of these guys.”


Active 8 Racing
3125 Savannah Tr.
Merritt Island, FL 32953
(714) 296-4492

nah Tr.
Merritt Island, FL 32953
(714) 296-4492