The Start-of-Season Scramble!
We’ve come a long way since our MotoAmerica debut just a few years ago. What started as one racer at the back of the Twins Cup pack morphed into a few riders at the front of Jr.Cup and Twins Cup a year later… and last year about 20 riders spanning the entire entry list. 2022? Let’s just say our growth continues to bloom exponentially. With that growth comes added pressure, stress and workload which can be hard to mitigate!
The off-season scramble is intense. Our busiest time of the year isn’t during the riding season - it’s the lead-up to the race season as everyone rushes to line out their teams, liveries and sponsors. Once everything is finalized, most teams place orders with just weeks to spare before Round 1. As you can imagine, this is the stuff that keeps me from losing sleep. Beyond the rush of getting things put into production and seen through the process, several other factors outside of our control come into play including supply chain issues, shipping delays, customs delays and damage/loss of items. Many times we are so tight against deadlines for Round 1 that we expedite shipping direct from the factory to the race venue where we then pick up the items, quality control them and hand-deliver them in person. This leaves literally zero margin for error, which is… not ideal.
Last year we had three teams’ pit crew shirts made for the Daytona 200 in just a week’s time and shipped directly to the race track. The shirts showed to be slated for delivery on Thursday morning according to tracking, but when I woke up and checked the status Thursday morning I had a notification that customs held the shipment then turned it around and returned it to the shipper overseas! Several phone calls and emails later, I discovered that when customs agents saw Kawasaki logos on six of the shirts they flagged the shipment as being copyright-infringed goods and returned the entire lot. All three teams’ worth of shirts. Never mind that the team in question is a factory-backed Kawasaki team which I could have shown documentation on! I got nothing more than a “Sorry for the inconvenience” message from customs, then I was on my own contacting each team manager and telling them they were shirtless for the biggest road race on US soil. My only solution was to purchase a bunch of plain collared shirts, a Cricut machine and several rolls of iron-on vinyl from the local crafts store and get to work. I was up until almost 3 a.m. cutting logos and ironing them onto shirts so the teams could be in uniform. It was not an enjoyable weekend… but we did the best with what we could.
The above is a great example of why Round 1 of the MotoAmerica season is always the hardest. This year there are three "Round 1s".
We started the MotoAmerica season with the Daytona 200 weekend, where we had no fewer than 7 (YES SEVEN) large boxes worth of items delivered directly to the race track. This included Bison umbrellas, about 250 pit crew shirts, eight competitors’ leathers, some gloves… and more stuff that I can’t recall at the moment. The point is, it was a lot and we needed a pallet jack to haul everything out to the rig. We then spent the rest of the day sorting, quality checking and delivering everyone’s goods. Thankfully for us, the only classes running at Daytona were Supersport, Baggers, and Twins.
Once we got everyone’s items to them we found there were some slight anomalies: a couple of suits had fitment issues due to measurement discrepancies, and the Bartcon Racing team shirts were definitely printed in “Barney purple” as opposed to “Yamaha blue”. Thankfully with the help of Sage Tailoring we were able to correct the fitment concerns on the leathers in question, but Bartcon’s shirts? Well, team owner Colin Barton and his crew learned to embrace their inner Barney for the weekend. The shirts have since been replaced with beautiful Yamaha blue digs.
So Daytona went okay but next up we have the Superbike round at Circuit of the Americas where we will be delivering suits to Superbike Cup competitors in addition to outfitting the entire grid of 20 North America Talent Cup riders in Bison suits and gloves! As you might imagine, working all the logistics as we approach an event which will be viewed by an international audience means the Bison team and I haven’t been getting much good sleep these past few weeks. Finally, the “real” first full round of MA racing takes place a couple of weeks after COTA at Road Atlanta where we will be outfitting Jr.Cup and Stock1000 racers for their first weekend of the season. We can’t forget the Motul Mini Cup which begins June 5 at the Road America round, nor the club races such as CCS, ASRA, CMRA and more which start their seasons at varying times throughout the spring. Club racers are just as important to us as the pros!
On one hand, all this craziness in the schedule feels like we’re living in a perpetual state of rushing and stressing for one “first round” after another. On another hand, we’ve been a little bit blessed in the sense that the staggered starts to these racers’ seasons have allowed us to complete orders in tiers and focus on the classes which started their racing first, then working down to the next ones in line.
I share all of the above with you not to pave the way for any future excuses nor seeking any pity - I just think it’s wild and I wanted to share it with you all! As you may know by now, we like to be transparent and pull the curtain back a little bit when it comes to our business and the way we do things. I am a big believer in the theory that much of our success can be attributed to the “human” feeling of our brand. We’re not a faceless name, nor do we claim to be bigger and badder than we are. At our core we are still a small, family owned business riding the balance of cash flow and growth. Most of all, we’re just trying to have some fun alongside our family at the track - even when things don’t go as planned!
Rob Lackey has been a motorcycle gear connoisseur for years, mostly because he crashed a lot there for a while. After spending 20 years in the automotive industry managing service departments with a focus on culture and customer service, Rob decided to combine his passion for making people happy with that of racing and "going fast while staying safe". He founded Bison Track LLC with his wife, Tosha and they now roam the country with their two youngest kids, Edith and Carter, growing The Herd and educating others about the importance of safe riding gear. Every now-and-then he still gets to race.
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