Interview – George Costa
How are things going over at Rennen?
Things are going well, our sales seem very steady and strong, the team is doing awesome having won the 2016 factory team title. Riders from all over the world are using our products and I feel like we have etched a small place for ourselves in the sport.
Anything new product wise in the works?
At this point, we do not have anything new planned in the product line. I am currently in the middle of construction of a 40×60 steel building on my property and this will be the permanent home for Rennen. This project has been a longtime in the making as it got delayed by 2 years due to my recent divorce. Once we are fully moved in (summer 2018 hopefully) we will be acquiring new equipment and making a few hires, at that point we will ramp up product development. I’m excited about the future.
How’s the Team looking this year going into Grands?
The team is looking strong, we are only 36pts behind Haro/Promax and this upcoming weekend is Reno so I am hopeful we take the lead going into grands like we had last year. Even if we don’t, the team game has changed this year as the ROC race is now a team last chance qualifier and Answer/Rennen has always been a strong Grands team. We have won the Grands the 3 out 5 years, now we get to add potentially 2 big scores due to ROC and we know that the end of the season is our time. So long as the riders don’t get too nervous we should be fine. I am confident we can repeat winning the factory team title.
Seems like a lot of sponsorship has shifted in the last year from Pro to Amateur racing. Why do you think this is?
I’m not sure it has shifted from Pro to AM it just looks like a lot of Pro Sponsorship has dropped off and those companies aren’t doing anything. Because of the team series AM sponsorship has always been good and to me it makes more sense for what we spend you would only be able to support 1/2 elites and I don’t think that provides the kind of broad coverage that a 20+ amateur team does. I know that this is the unpopular opinion among many but if I am wrong then why are so many Elites losing their deals? Factory AM racing is an attainable goal by all that race and that is why I believe they are valuable. Many kids aspire to be on a factory team well before they aspire to be an Elite. I believe that we are currently witnessing an extinction event occurring in Elite BMX racing as the numbers dwindle each year soon there will be federation supported Elites and then if the Olympics ever decides to remove racing from its lineup then poof it will be gone.
Give us a ballpark cost on running an AM team today?
For a team looking to compete to win the factory title most of them are burning through 100K plus a year. Answer/Rennen doesn’t spend that much – the amount of total cash flow required to pull off our program is closer to 50-75K depending on the strategy we set forth at the beginning of the year. From 2012-2016 we competed a lot, racking up 45-55 national event scores per year. In 2017 we had to dial back a little bit and we have only competed in 21 events so far we will have 25 including grands. 2017 so far has been probably the most successful regular season as we have 10 wins and 16 podiums out of 21 events.
How do you see the current landscape in BMX Racing?
Current landscape is people filling their need for racing, racing is addictive. That being said, I believe we are seeing elements of society filtering in such as people’s obsessions with social media and how many followers they have? You wanted an answer to why pros are losing sponsorship it’s probably because most people are far more concerned about themselves than “idols”. Everyone wants to be a badass rider or look the part, that’s why we see so many amateur teams with these kids getting their fix. All of these things help create and drive the national series but I think its counter productive towards the locals where traditionally people want to have fun. Maybe what Donny and Mike Carruth are doing will help fill the void at the local end they by far have had the most success and I hope that The beginner league flourishes.
If at all, what would you do to improve the Team Title Competition within USA BMX?
I would structure it like Supercross or F1 racing a defined series all scores count no throwaways make it 10-15 weekends of mandatory competition if you want to win the title. All other nationals hosted can still run team competition but the points would only go towards the cash prize for the day. Right now we as TMs have to play BMXnostradamus to guess where the big events will be. I live in Massachusetts and sadly the closest event to me that makes sense to participate in due to big points scoring is Rock Hill or Nashville 16hrs from where I live. I routinely do not go to the closer nationals we have in South Park PA, Kingston NY or Maryland and to be honest that sucks.
What AMs have impressed you this season?
I am a little biased here but Brandon Crain and Marshall Gehrke who are both at the top of the AM points and ride for me have been killing it this year they don’t lose very often and look for one of them on stage holding a cup in Tulsa.
What’s your thoughts on negativity on the sport we read online?
It gets old real fast specifically when it’s the same old tired arguments or people/sanction bashing. Sometimes it’s funny to see like the John Purse/Dr. J Rich beef but usually it’s people just wanting to complain with no real solutions and that’s where there is too much of it. I think most people don’t realize how tough it is to have a business in this sport or run a sanction or a local track or a team or be a Pro. If more people would try to do something positive with their time rather than bash and complain the world in general would be a better place for sure. I have to give a lot of credit to everyone in the sport trying to do good and make it a better place. My hat goes off to you Dale, Mike Carruth, DR, USABMX, Coach G, J Rich, Tyler Brown, Rich/TJ (Tangent), John Sawyer (Answer/SSquared) and all the track operators across the country etc. Sometimes BMX likes to knock you down and its all about how we can get back up from that and move forward.
Plans for 2018 ?
Finish the the new Rennen headquarters building, keep kicking ass with the team and plan for a positive future.
PC: Mike Carruth