TWMX All Access: Team Samsung RadioShack, and Team MotoSport Outlet

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This week we’re taking a look at two of the new teams debuting on the Supercross scene; Team Samsung RadioShack, and Team MotoSport Outlet, and introduce the principles behind each one.

Team Samsung RadioShack

Team Samsung RadioShack features two new outside induustry sponsors, along with six riders: Cole Seibler, Josh Summey and Michael Blose in the West; and Steve Mertens, Mathieu Lalloz, Chris Whitcraft in the East. They’re also being featured on a Spike TV show called, “The Reality of Speed,” which can be seen weekly. We met up with Team Manager Lucky Nichols, who filled us in on how the team came together.

TWMX: How did this all get started?

Lucky Nichols: I’ve had LCS Racing for 28 years, and worked with the amateur racers a lot. One of my good friends, Dave Walters from Central Yamaha, introduced me to a man named Michael Holigan out of Dallas. Better than a year ago they asked me what it would take to put a Supercross team together. I told them what it would take, and they went away and I didn’t hear from them for a quite a while. Then they called me up and said, “Hey, we’re ready to go, and we want you to manage the team.

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TWMX: How fast did your jaw hit the table?

LN: Well, I was excited about it. It was just wonderful to have the opportunity to do that. We had less than 90 days to put together what you see in front of you right now. The 18-wheeler behind you here, I didn’t have 18 days ago, and I had to get it painted and all that stuff.

But I’m just really blessed because all of my mechanics that I have are experienced, the riders have experience, all the key people fell in place just like it was supposed to happen. It really hasn’t been very hard, it’s just all happened right in front of me.

TWMX: How has it been, dealing with the TV?

LN: I’ve taught in schools and I’ve been in front of a lot of people, so the cameras don’t bother me at all. Some of the other guys, they have a little trouble with it at first. But it’s really no big deal. They just become your buddies and they’re always around you. The one thing that I’ve learned about the camera guys, though, is that they don’t move as fast as we do. A lot of times you’ll turn around and catch a camera right in the face.

TWMX: Did you pick the team riders? Or did the sponsors have riders in mind?

LN: Well, when we decided that we wanted to put it together, we looked at which motorcycles we wanted to run, and by all means we wanted to run Yamahas. We wanted to run their 250Fs. So we went to Yamaha and they did back us, we are a factory-backed Yamaha team. They did give us some rider names that they thought would fit into our team really well. We didn’t get all of them, but the ones we got we’re very proud to have. I’ve got six really good riders right now.

TWMX: When you laid out a number for what you wanted for budget to make it all happen, what were you looking at?

LN: It was a substantial number. Samsung and RadioShack came on, and we woun’t be here without those guys. I’ll tell you it’s really great to bring an outside sponsor in. We truly have an outside sponsor here. This team is unlike pretty much anything that’s ever been here before because we’re not running through a shop or a parts house. This is the Samsung/RadioShack team.

TWMX: What do you expect out of your guys?

LN: The big thing tonight is to get to the main event. If I get all three guys in the main event, that would be an awesome deal.

TWMX: When is the TV show on?

LN: The first showing was today. It’s on every week for 48 weeks of fresh film, every week a new story, and then there will be four shows that will be the best of the year. It’s every Saturday, you can watch the team on 9:30 Saturday morning on Spike TV. Then you can get on the Internet and find out how we did that night.

Where we’re at right now, we’re really really glad to have these sponsors, and really glad to have the riders, and if I get all three of these guys in the main event, I’ve hit a home run tonight.

TWMX: How does it work during the latter half of the season, when a certain percentage of the guys are fighting for a ride in the nationals?

LN: Yeah, what we’ve done is put three guys on the east coast and three guys on the west coast…but we only have three guys that are going outdoors. So the hard part for me is going to be with the six good riders that I have, and every one of them is really good, to whittle it down to those three. It’s not just going to be based upon how they finish. It’s also going to be based on their ability to work inside the team framework, and how well they work within that framework.

Cole Seibler finished 12th, and Josh Summey finished in 18th in the 22-rider field. The third rider on the west crew, Michael Blose, finished fifth in the LCQ, and missed the main by one spot.

Want more info? www.teamsamsungradioshack.com.

Team MotoSport Outlet

This all-new team is the brainchild of Bill Butcher (owner of MotoSport Outlet) and Bill Tanner (who in the past had run the Blackfoot Honda Team). While they don’t feature the outside sponsors that Team Samsung RadioShack has, MotoSport Outlet has been growing rapidly (80% last year), and they’ve received plenty of industry support from White Brothers, MSR, and more. Obviously, the goal is to promote the MotoSport Outlet mail order business, but they’re also following in the footsteps of teams like Chaparral Motorsports.

Riders include Tiger Lacey, Craig Anderson, Justin Buckelew, Sean Collier, and Jean Sebastien Roy.

TWMX: We saw MotoSport Outlets logos on Tiger Lacey’s bike last year, but you’ve stepped it up in a big way for ’04. What was the motivation?

Bill Butcher: This is something I’ve been trying to do for a few years. I’ve been chipping away at it little by little. I’m an enthusiast number one, and number two it’s something to help promote MotoSport. We’re a national business.

I liked helping Ti last year because he’s an Oregon guy, kind of regional for us and that was a lot of fun. But I had been kind of thinking, “How can I do this?” all along. Bill and I got together and it was a good match. For me, I needed a Bill Tanner to do this with, because I can’t be at the track every weekend. I’ve got the business to run, a new baby and a three-year-old, and a wife. She doesn’t want me away every weekend. I couldn’t do this without Bill Tanner. I think Bill Tanner couldn’t maybe do this without me, so it was really a very good match for us.

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TWMX: When did you make the decision that you wanted to do this?

BB: Probably not long after we started talking.

Bill Tanner: Our first real meeting was at the Vegas Supercross in May of 2003. Then we’d been on the phone talking back and forth. I think we really decided probably in late August or the first of September. That’s when we said, “Okay, we can raise the money we need to do it.” That’s when we really started to put it together seriously.

BB: There’s a go/no go point. You can’t wait too long. If you sit around too long, then all the money’s spent and the riders are gone. So we just pulled the trigger.

TWMX: What were some of the biggest challenges in putting together the whole thing?

BT: Obviously money. (Laughs) Money, and getting the rig was the real challenge. We first thought a good rig was important, which it is. So we first tried to buy McGrath’s rig. Even though we had it in the contract, it was more money than we needed to spend. So fortunately Paul from Motoworld wanted that rig, and he had his rig for sale, so we ended up buying his rig, which was a real asset to us because it was well-equipped and set up. We just had to do some paint, graphics, and awning work on it. That’s where that part started.

BB: The toughest part is, you really just do have to commit. You have to pull the trigger and go, and hope it all comes together. Maybe you’ll be upside-down at the end of the year and you might be okay, but you’ve just got to do it. There’s no other way to do it. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

BT: One of the biggest assets is Bill’s relationship with industry sponsors. Like he sells humungous quantities of products, so that was easy for us to do was go to get the industry sponsors. My background is that I’ve run a team, I know what it takes to do that, so we put those two together, and we’ve come together. Now the challenge is to get some outside sponsorship, which we need to do to take it further. You can only go to the industry for so much.

TWMX: Who are the big guys helping you out?

BB: Well, certainly Honda. MSR, White Brothers has played a very significant role…

BT: Those are the two biggest. MSR stepped up. They put a lot of faith in us, because Bill doesn’t sell MSR right now, but they sure want to, so that was one of their motivations to take on the team, was to get MSR into his catalog. So that was one of the commitments we made, that if they sponsored us, they’d get in the catalog.

White Brothers, you can’t say enough about what White Brothers has done for us. They’ve basically given us their race shop, given us Alan Olson…everything to do with that race shop is ours. We R&D their pipes, they’ve got a dyno, they’ve got everything there…

BB: …and it’s all first class.

BT: With Alan Olson being our lead technician, you just couldn’t ask for any better. We also got some of their other race technicians, so it’s just been a great transition for us.

Mike Bell’s committed to our team, and let’s face it. MotoSport Outlet is one of their biggest customers, so it’s a natural for them.

What are your goals and dreams for this year?

BB: Bill and I probably have different goals. My goal is to have a very good image in the pits, be very professional, and of course get good results.

BT: I’m shooting for results, obviously. We’ve got a mixture of reasonably seasoned guys with Craig Anderson, JSR and Justin Buckelew, and we’ve got a couple young guys. Tiger Lacey, who needs a home so that he can show what he can really do, and Sean Collier, who’s racing his first Supercross and qualified for the night program.

BB: Probably not long after we started talking.

Bill Tanner: Our first real meeting was at the Vegas Supercross in May of 2003. Then we’d been on the phone talking back and forth. I think we really decided probably in late August or the first of September. That’s when we said, “Okay, we can raise the money we need to do it.” That’s when we really started to put it together seriously.

BB: There’s a go/no go point. You can’t wait too long. If you sit around too long, then all the money’s spent and the riders are gone. So we just pulled the trigger.

TWMX: What were some of the biggest challenges in putting together the whole thing?

BT: Obviously money. (Laughs) Money, and getting the rig was the real challenge. We first thought a good rig was important, which it is. So we first tried to buy McGrath’s rig. Even though we had it in the contract, it was more money than we needed to spend. So fortunately Paul from Motoworld wanted that rig, and he had his rig for sale, so we ended up buying his rig, which was a real asset to us because it was well-equipped and set up. We just had to do some paint, graphics, and awning work on it. That’s where that part started.

BB: The toughest part is, you really just do have to commit. You have to pull the trigger and go, and hope it all comes together. Maybe you’ll be upside-down at the end of the year and you might be okay, but you’ve just got to do it. There’s no other way to do it. You don’t know what’s going to happen.

BT: One of the biggest assets is Bill’s relationship with industry sponsors. Like he sells humungous quantities of products, so that was easy for us to do was go to get the industry sponsors. My background is that I’ve run a team, I know what it takes to do that, so we put those two together, and we’ve come together. Now the challenge is to get some outside sponsorship, which we need to do to take it further. You can only go to the industry for so much.

TWMX: Who are the big guys helping you out?

BB: Well, certainly Honda. MSR, White Brothers has played a very significant role…

BT: Those are the two biggest. MSR stepped up. They put a lot of faith in us, because Bill doesn’t sell MSR right now, but they sure want to, so that was one of their motivations to take on the team, was to get MSR into his catalog. So that was one of the commitments we made, that if they sponsored us, they’d get in the catalog.

White Brothers, you can’t say enough about what White Brothers has done for us. They’ve basically given us their race shop, given us Alan Olson…everything to do with that race shop is ours. We R&D their pipes, they’ve got a dyno, they’ve got everything there…

BB: …and it’s all first class.

BT: With Alan Olson being our lead technician, you just couldn’t ask for any better. We also got some of their other race technicians, so it’s just been a great transition for us.

Mike Bell’s committed to our team, and let’s face it. MotoSport Outlet is one of their biggest customers, so it’s a natural for them.

What are your goals and dreams for this year?

BB: Bill and I probably have different goals. My goal is to have a very good image in the pits, be very professional, and of course get good results.

BT: I’m shooting for results, obviously. We’ve got a mixture of reasonably seasoned guys with Craig Anderson, JSR and Justin Buckelew, and we’ve got a couple young guys. Tiger Lacey, who needs a home so that he can show what he can really do, and Sean Collier, who’s racing his first Supercross and qualified for the night program.

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