Maybe Grassroots isn’t so good, maybe

Back in my early days of elmoto obsession and hanging out on the elmoto.net forum, a debate went round and round. Which was better for electric motorcycle racing, to have a World Championship series that was at major venues racing with other major world series, or to have the series grow naturally from a grass roots effort where the average Joe races these bikes, then when it becomes popular enough it makes it to the national, and international series.  Basically is it better to build elmoto racing from the top down using inspiration to drive excitement and wealthy peoples money to do the brunt of development, or is it better to build from the bottom up. Bottom up makes a lot of sense (or did anyway), as this is pretty much how modern motorcycle racing came about. But the times really are quite different, in that media consumption is radically different. You can pretty much follow any infinitesimal sport you want to via Google, or Bing, or whatever browser you choose. And it can even go viral and the next thing you know its on NBC. But in today’s media you needs fans watching and following for that to happen. I know I made an effort at making that happen, scrapping what info I could together to bring something people could look forward to and follow. It didn’t take off. It makes me wonder if Azhar Hussain and the TTXGP took that gamble too, hoping it’d capture people’s imagination enough to ‘go viral’, as it were. I would most certainly not believe this is how the FIM would do things. They would, and kind of did, view it in a slow and steady kind of way.

But the problem is fans. Why? Well because fans = money. And this isn’t another fans are the problem rant. Been there, done that. This is a fan access problem. A problem I didn’t fully appreciate until I recently looked into attending a race. The current eMotoRacing series here in the US is a new class in the American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association, or AHRMA for short. So really, its not a series, its a class. But maybe I’m being too harsh. But then you have to realize that AHRMA is a club racing series. And I have said this time and time again, about the eMR being a club racing series, but the gravity, or maybe just personal panic, of that statement has just now hit me. The first round of the eMR is at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah, GA. Its a non-spectator track. Yeah, did you do a double take like I did? I called and got an answering machine, so I have sent an e-mail and still waiting for a reply from the track.  Two days ago I posted on eMR’s Facebook page asking for info on how to attend. I an still waiting for a reply, but its only been a few days. So I thought, well, none of this is under the eMR’s control, so I’ll go to AHRMA’s website. Well, I cannot find one info@* email address. All the e-mail addresses are for the people in charge of the various classes, and Board members. Nothing on the web site, that I can find, has any kind of info for someone who just wants to watch some racing. Its all for people who want to race. That is what club racing is about, after all. It’s about people who have enough money and spare time to race motorcycles, and have a whole lot of fun doing it. Which is great! But it puts the electrics racers and bikes in a bit of a bubble. My hope for this series was that the few elmoto fans who want to see this type of racing can finally go see it live as this series goes all over the country. But what keeps these types of series alive is participants, not fans. And what will keep the eMR alive is racers and bikes. But with such a fledgling sport who is going to go race a class they don’t even know about? Well that appears to be fans who hits them up on Facebook Messenger will get good and friendly support. So they don’t have an infor@* e-mail address, but they have someone answering their messages on FB. So there is some hope. Just a heads up a reply on messenger will take about a day.

However, my concern is not about the intent of the people behind AHRMA and the eMR. I truly believe that they have all the best of intentions. My concern is about the real world implications. The closest race to me this year is an 8 hour drive, and it doesn’t seem fan friendly. Actually, “Non-Spectator” is #2 on their fact sheet about the track, and all of the Yelp reviews mention how its a non-spectator venue. That is about as non-fan friendly as you can get. How am I supposed to get behind a series that starts its year like this as someone who is hoping to get people in front of these bikes, or simply a fan? I’m a bit nutty so jumping through a few hoops to see what I want is one thing, but what about the average Joe who just runs across some articles and has never visited a race track? Nothing is ambassadoric about any of this (did I just make up a word?). Honestly I don’t even see any eMR content on their site. So people’s only point of contact really is the eMR. Some of the racers are on the electric motorcycle forums, so those folks can connect and get hook ups that way. But it doesn’t change that when you show up everyone assumes you’re a racer, and if you aren’t, its quite possible not everyone is on the same page as to what you can do and where you can go. It just seems like a locked off world for the non racer, and getting the key isn’t easy as the people inside might think it is. I wonder if any of these folks have considered how confusing a track on a club race weekend can be for a simple person off the street. If it was an AMA Superbike weekend, back when those were a thing, there’d be no confusion because of the difference in focus of where they money is coming from. I’ve been to only a few club race weekends in my life time, Loudon, Miller, and Daytona, and I can’t honestly say I’m not overstating things. But, I don’t think its all that easy, and starting the season off at a “Non-Spectator” track isn’t the best signal to send non-racer types. If AHRMA hadn’t got back to me I’d be at the point that I’d be thinking about crashing the place. I’m sure it wouldn’t be any kind of hassle to get in. “I’m with the electric guys” would probably get me as far as I needed.

It would be nice if there was an “Are you a fan and want to come see a race?” button on the eMR site somewhere obvious. They input the usual mailing and e-mail addy info and what race they want to see. Then they’d get an email listing all the local places to stay, insider info on how to get away with camping, and even maybe the best spots to watch the race at the track. And in the case of Roebling Road, how to Jedi mind trick your way in. And you know a nice touch might be a cheap eMR badge press pass (with “fan” written on there somewhere) looking thing just to keep the weak-minded from bothering them. Hmm, that’s a bit detailed. 😀

If you want to go to Roebling Road and watch the first race of the year just drop AHRMA a line via messenger on their Facebook page. This way, they will have a better gauge of actual interest. Note I did not ask about the electrics specifically, just about attending the weekend in general.

BTW, someone pointed out that I didn’t mention the European series, MotoE, when I listed series and goings on in an earlier post. Well let me take a moment now. If I catch wind that any fan with the cash in hand to pay entry fees is somehow denied reasonable access to the races, much les the electric ones you will receive a tongue lashing on this site of such of epic proportions that it will make Hussain and Czysz want to hug each other for comfort and safety. Of course since it’ll be on this blog no one will read it, so there’s that. But still, you know better, have been doing it long enough to know better, and I expect better. Have a nice day. 😀

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