Enrique Ayala is the owner of Top 100 dealership Bajacycles/Official Acerbis Store. The San Diego store is heavily involved in off-road races such as the Score International Baja races, WORCS series races and AMA District 37 events. (This interview has been edited for style and clarity.)
Dealernews: How have OHV-access/land-use issues affected your business?
AYALA: These issues have affected our business in a small but very noticeable way. Basically many if not all of our customers that go off-road riding have been riding less due to the restrictions on land use within recent years. With less accessible land, there are fewer miles on their ride. Once that happens, they are left with nothing but dull territory on a weekend basis. And this affects us because the reduced usage of products such as tires means a decreased necessity to purchase new products. We call it “the less factor.”
DN: What are the biggest concerns the industry faces in the fight over land use?
AYALA: The lack of professional, high-powered lobbyists advocating properly for the industry. And it is not only the [powersports] industry, it is everyone involved with the issue, including tourism, automobiles and racing. All of the parties involved should hire the same lobbyists and co-share the benefits as a whole as part of a new strategy.
DN: What have you done to build awareness to land-use issues in your area?
AYALA: We always encourage people to ride and race as if the land was theirs, but also to try and view the issue from the other side of the fence. Since we’re more familiar with Baja California, Mexico — it’s our back yard — we have seen firsthand how these problems evolve in a similar fashion to those in California, but with a 20-year difference. Meaning that what happened to California 20 years ago is happening to Baja now. Everything is related and exponential to the amount of people using the same land.
DN: What can dealers and manufacturers do to become advocates for land use?
AYALA: Work together with all the other industries that find themselves affected and fight. As I previously mentioned, if we continue on this path, without anyone’s cooperation and without any persuasively coherent plan, the environmentalists could prevail.
DN: How do you get your customers involved in local land-access concerns?
AYALA: Right now it’s impossible to steer clients in the right direction since there is no current agenda on how to tackle the issue we deal with within our industry. In fact, I have witnessed how miserable our representatives find themselves over this issue.
DN: What successes have you had in your efforts to raise awareness, or change laws?
AYALA: We believe in the phrase: Be respectful to others if you want to be respected in return. In all matters, including but not limited to land use, noise and trespassing. In fact, we are constantly raising the question: What would you do if someone tried to do this to you?
DN: Have you had any personal issues with environmentalists or extremists in your area?
AYALA: Not personally. Never in our 32 years of enjoying public lands in California, Arizona, Nevada or Baja. Our motto is: Respect and obey, in order to be respected and heard.
DN: How big of an impact will land access/OHV access have on off-road racing?
AYALA: At this pace it will destroy our passion: racing in an open environment.
This story originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Dealernews.