The riders are taking over. From track directors to team managers, riders are taking charge of BMX racing,, and to me it can’t come a minute too soon. Many people have heard what happened this past weekend at the EHT National, this brought me to thinking about BMX racing teams and who runs them. Then it dawned on me. I know quite a few guys who now run teams who also are racers and riders themselves. Here are some riders who are also team managers who I got to talk to about their thoughts on how to properly manage a BMX team. They are:
Anthony Brown- Team Manager for CJS. Ant-Dog as he is known by his buds, is all about BMX, has been for over 20+ years. He hammers around the track in the 35+ X class. He has the view of the local bike shop team.
Dave Pawson- Team Manager for PBR (Pawson BMX Racing). BMX Legend pretty much personifies the hard-core BMX thrasher. This guy has been eating, sleeping and breathing BMX for over 25 years.. He’ll be hitting you with the perspective of the core BMX guys who show up in jerseys, pants and t-shirts. Dave romps in the 30-34 X class.
Craig Wilson- Team Manager for GHP-Atom Lab East. Crazy Craig is the family man. He is a mortgage broker by trade but moonlights in the 35+ X class. He started racing in the early 80’s, took a hiatus to get the family going but is back to lend his old school talent to the new school racers. Craig is professional in his demeanor but a madman out of the gate. He will let us hear the view of the co-factory team.
Jud Ciancio- Team Manager for Hyper Bicycles. Jud has been racing and winning since the heydays of the 80’s. A factory rider even back then, he currently races in the 35+ X class also. He takes care of the full factory Hyper BMX team. His point of view is that of the BMX factory team, the big ride, what all the young kids aspire to.
How long have you been involved with BMX?
Ant- If you include all the years of building jumps out of wood and bricks, going to trails, hanging out in bike shops, and my freestyle years, umm all my life.
Legend- 23 years straight.
Craig- Riding since the late ’70s, racing Since 1981. Retired from racing in 1990. Came back in 2006.
Jud- 28 years. My first race was in 1979 Middletown NY.
How do you talk to your riders at a race?
Ant- I treat my riders with respect and dignity. Our team is about fun, they bag on me and call me old, well I am almost 40 so what the hey!! I also get along great with all the parents. When one of the kids needed some parts I went into the attic and gave him stuff. That is how we did it BITD we helped each other.
Legend- We just talk.. about all sorts of things..bikes, chicks, jumps, how much i hate clips.
Craig- I just try to pump them up to do their best and tell them to have a good attitude no matter what happens. I try my best to tell them something good they did that day, even if it was just having the biggest smile.
Jud- Try to be low pressure and supportive. Offer advice if I see something that they can improve. Sometimes they even listen!
How do you talk to their parents at a race?
Ant- Me and all the parents are pretty darn cool. They like the fact I know my stuff about BMX, and Jim Coradois now an official racer. Mind you he is a 53 year old rookie When i crashed at EHT, Jim patched me up. We all have the same love for this sport. When we talk, I talk to them like adults. And yes they bust my chops too.
Legend- Same as I talk to the kids I guess..I get along with the parents very well.
Craig- I include them. I talk to them as if they were racing, too. Happy racers come from happy parents.
Jud- I have a team of seasoned veteran’s. I usually will talk directly to the rider if it’s a racing issue, but I also realize how much a parent puts in to getting their child to a race and having them prepared to win, so I always try to treat the parents with respect.
How important is keeping your cool at the track?
Ant- It is very important to keep your cool at the track. You can not call yourself a team leader or a team manager or a leader of anything if you can’t keep your cool. When you are dealing with the public and kids you are setting an example. If you do not set the example how can you expect anyone to follow you. Hey I wrecked hard saturday, I could have gotten all p’oed and sat in a corner, but I raced and continued to cheer my boy’s on.
Legend- It’s very important. Acting like a jackass is going to make everyone look at you like a jackass and you’ll get no respect
Craig- I think I lost it one time last year, and that was after my wreck in the main at the grands. Afterwards I felt pretty stupid, knowing that some little kids must have heard me. So yeah, its real important.
Jud- I have a number of stories I could tell you about seeing riders lose their cool at the track. About 28 years worth. And every one of those incidents looks as stupid as the next. My Mom was a hippie so I’m pretty laid back. I try and let my riders know that BMX is for fun and there are very few things that they should lose their cool about at a race.
Do you stress winning as the most important thing on your team?
Ant- I stress having fun more than anything. Hell Ihave yet to win a race, but I go out there and I have fun. My personal thing is “if you are having fun, it does not matter if you win or lose”
Legend- Winning .. I don’t care if my riders win.. I want them to have fun riding their bikes. I want them to jump and do tricks and just have fun out there.. If they win.. that’s rad.. if they lose, that’s rad also cause they were out there trying
Craig- NO! NO! NO! This is racing – and these kids already want to win and put enough pressure on themselves. My job is to make sure they approach it with the right attitude win or lose.
Jud- Never. The riders I have know how to win, but more than that I picked riders that have other things to offer than winning a BMX race. Vogler is one of the most exciting riders you’ll ever watch. Rich Farside brings intensity and knowledge that helps the whole team. We don’t run a team sheet at every race anymore, that’s not important to me. What is important is that my riders try their best, have as much fun as possible (that helps sell bikes) and act professional.
How do you feel about people pulling out of a race if they are sick or injured?
Ant- If you are sick or hurt you should not be out there. you do nothing but make yourself worse. I hurt my back my first year and could not race for a month. last year Ihad shingles and was out for 6 weeks. Bottom line if someone is hurt i would not call them names or hurt someone’s feelings.
Legend- ha ha.. This is a real question?..in BMX, you gotta be in good shape, and if you are sick or broken.. racing isn’t going to be healthy for you.
Craig- C’ mon, what kind of stupid question is that? lol This is BMX. These kids are not wimps and when they are hurt or sick its dang near impossible to keep them off the bike. If someone told me they can’t race, they must really be sick or hurt.
Jud- Injured? Are you talking about me? (no, I wasn’t making a crack Jud! LOL ) I understand better than most TM’s about injuries related to BMX. If a rider is honestly injured I’d want them to stop for the day. What’s most important to me is that everyone of my riders has a chance to be #1. Nothing would make me happier than to see everyone on the team reach their goals this year.
How do you feel about people pulling out of a race if they just don’t have the drive that day?
Ant- Sometimes a person might be having a bad day, or personal issues, or family issues. You do not know what is in that riders head. One of my teammates is going dirt biking this weekend and won’t be racing, ya know what? Cool. That is something he likes to do. Me I love drag racing and I might decide to go to the track one day instead of racing. Sometimes you do something so much you get burned out and need to step back for a minute. I see nothing wrong with that.
Legend- It’s about having fun.. If you’re not feeling it.. You’re not feeling it.
Craig- We all have days like that. Tough call. I know if I feel like that at work, I gotta suck it up. If I saw that happening more than once with a rider, then you know there is something more going on.
Jud- If one of my riders doesn’t come to a race prepared, I’d have an issue with that rider. I don’t force riders to show up, as I said before we don’t always run a team sheet so I don’t have to have the whole team at every race. I expect each rider to do their best if they are on the gate.
What do you offer your riders?
Ant- I can’t offer much, I am poor, LOL. But when they need help with their bikes, I am there. If they need a way to the track I am there. But the one thing I offer is my friendship. They know that they can talk to me. They know if they see my van that they can knock on the door. When I was a kid I had nobody to support me and I made a promise to myself. If I could ever find a group of kids that love this sport I would do my best to help them out.
Legend- Fun times.
Craig- Now Dave – No handing out free beer to steal riders from me! *S* First is to be part of a fun group. Next is to be associated with Greg Hill (GHP) and all that goes with that (including training tips & advice). Third, we have great co-sponsors which allowed us to put together a very affordable support plan for the team we have now. Going forward we hope to get non-profit status in order to attract donations and do even more.
Jud- I’d say we are offering more than most this year. We brought the team down in size specifically to be able to offer more to the riders. More of an old school philosophy. A factory ride should be a factory ride.
How do you guys feel about a watchdog group of TM’s that make sure other TM’s don’t behave badly at BMX events?
Ant- I have no problem with that. I hate it when a parent who has never raced yells at a kid “for not trying” I say we become that group.
Legend- Works for me..If I ever see a TM yell at a child.. I’ll let him know it isn’t cool at all.
Craig- I don’t think we need a watchdog group, just call ’em as you see them. You don’t have to be a TM to know another TM is being a bonehead. If they do something stupid, you take care of it.
Jud- I really don’t pay attention to the other TM’s. Most of them have never raced and are more rapped up in a team title than helping their riders be the best they can be. Hyper has won national titles before and it didn’t help us sell anymore bikes or keep all of the riders happy.
Who has the most important and hardest job in BMX?
The sanctions? The volunteers? The team managers? The track directors? The riders?
Ant- To me it is track directors and riders. Example: Chris Vliet busted his butt (with alot of help) to pull that race off. He and others had to fight the rain 2 days before the race, and the track was perfect. Riders are the one that have to do the actual racing. To me in all honesty riders have the hardest job though, We have to promote the hell out of this sport, because if we do not no one else will do it THE RIGHT WAY!!!!!!!!!
Legend- hmm.. The hardest job..I would say everyone has the hardest job… But that is what makes it all the more challenging to me.
Craig- Dang. Had to go there, huh? They all get my vote. Honest. But seriously, right now, at this time in BMX, I’d say its the rider. All the rider wants to do is go out and throw down, but there is too much BS going on right now that can take the fun away. It makes it tough for a rider to keep coming out, plus try to get his friends involved in this real cool sport he or she loves, knowing there is some BS that has to be dealt with on a regular basis. I hope by providing a kickin team, we can insulate the rider from some of that bs and re-focus on fun!!!
Jud- Team managing is easy and should be fun. Being a volunteer is important without them the races wouldn’t happen every week.
Last thoughts from anyone?
Ant- I want to thank Al and Helen form CJS. They took a chance on someone that walked in their door and was shooting off his mouth. Now I feel I owe it to them and to BMX, to get this so called “kids sport” the prop’s it deserves and to help their shop become bigger than it already is.
Legend- BMX f’in rules (hear hear!)…lets all have fun out there on our little kids bikes..keep the BMX alive.
Jud- I might be Hyper’s TM, but I hope that most people think of me as a force in the 35x class first!
Sound words of advice from some veterans of east coast BMX. Thanks guys and good luck with the craziness this year.