DEALERNEWS: How is the support team structured in relation to the customer/rider?
Stanfield: The team manager is in charge. Of course, rider input on all aspects is required and desired, but ultimately there must be one person in charge to set priorities. As soon as the rider finishes the day, the team manager talks with them about the ride and bike needs in order to set the priorities for the work to be accomplished. Then the maintenance begins for the next day.
DEALERNEWS: How much would it cost for additional non-riders, such as friends and family of the racer, or fans who wish to tag along as spectators?
Stanfield: If they want to be as close to the action as possible, have full access to the bivouac (controlled pit area) each day, and ride with the support truck and crew, the cost would be about $19,000.
PHOTO: Team manager and lead mechanic Scott Spears and team mechanic Jaime Valdez work in the FRR bivouac to prepare the team's KTM 150.
Most of this cost is for the fee that the [Dakar] organization charges. To be in the bivouac requires the person [to] be registered as a support person -- just the same as the mechanics. That fee alone is $11,500 [and] goes direct to the race organization. If the person just wants to ride with the support truck and stay outside the bivouac, then that cost would be closer to $6,000.
Stanfield: It takes more time than I expected when we first got involved! Fortunately, I have great personnel that allow me to spend time on a niche market like the rally racing. The rally side of the business will always be very small, but it exposes the business to additional customers that previously had not done business with us.
DEALERNEWS: Any plans to expand to other racing series?
Stanfield: We are discussing doing a couple of events in Europe in 2013, but have not finalized plans. We need to complete the Dakar first, and see what interest we have from customers for additional events.
DEALERNEWS: The Dakar can be a literal killer. How do you handle the liabilities of travel, insurance and other risks?
Stanfield: Very simply, it is an event that probably should not be considered if the liability issues are a factor. The rest of the world operates much differently than the [United States], and is not controlled by attorneys -- no offense intended. There is some international insurance coverage offered to help reduce some expenses.
My wife and I have devoted our lives to our store and business, and got in the business because of the love of motorcycles. Although we did participate locally and have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the sport, we always held back on getting involved in big events because of the exposure or time commitments. Dakar is our way of making up for the past 30 years of "waiting until we had time." In hindsight, we should have done Dakar or something similar at least 15 years ago. Dakar participation has had a definite positive impact on the business and exposes many customers to another aspect of the sport that is not that well-known in the USA.
Images supplied by Freedom Cycles Inc.