Did You Miss Anaheim 1? Barcia Was There With His TLD GasGas Red Bull Team.
Justin Barcia’s move from Yamaha to the new Troy Lee Designs GasGas Red Bull factory team was perhaps the biggest news of the 2021 off-season team changes. Barcia is the only premier-class race winner from the 2020 season that switched teams for 2021. The New York native is anxious to get going on his new bike, and after winning the A1 Supercross the last two years, Barcia was bummed to hear Anaheim Stadium would not be part of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross season due to Covid-19 restrictions. So, the team wanted to have some fun and Red Bull decided to make A1 happen, sort of.
With the help of Red Bull, GasGas rented out Angel Stadium of Anaheim and created a just-for-fun video showcasing what could have been if A1 had taken place last weekend.
We talked with Jeremy Malott, Red Bull Motorsports Marketing Manager to learn more about how this came together and what it took to pull it off.
What was the impetus of this plan and how did it shake out?
Jeremy Malott: Early part of December we had a meeting with Troy Lee and Jason Steris (TLD CEO) and Tyler Keefe (Team Manager) and talked about the opportunities that kind of sat in front of this GasGas brand and Troy Lee, which is obviously already a fun brand, and how we were going to make that different. We looked at the schedule and said, if they’re not going to go to Anaheim, well, we will, because you can’t have a season without Anaheim. You can’t have a NASCAR season without Daytona. So, we figured if the series won’t go, we will, and check that box. With Justin having won the previous two Anaheim’s and the TLD race team’s history of doing really well at Anaheim, it made sense to just take advantage of the situation. Likely in ‘22 we’ll be back racing Anaheim. It was really kind of one of those opportunities that only existed this year. It was more expensive than I think we all wanted, but we all thought it was worth it at the end of the day.
Let’s talk about how it actually happened. What did it take to pull that off and to pull that stunt off?
I guess it was a coincidence because Jason, the CEO of TLD, his neighbor is the president of the Angels. I think he just walked down and knocked on his door and asked him if we could rent the stadium. I don’t know how to rent a stadium. I have no idea. So that snowballed into them calling us. I think because the president came to his staff and said, “I want this to happen,” they all made it happen. So, we got the stadium rental. They were actually happy because [the stadium] got about $90,000 [that will help pay to redo the baseball field]. They have a grass field. They have to take care of it. So, they were happy with any revenue that they could get. They were really accommodating in that sense. That made it easy. Then we just had to find a ramp and a landing and a pyro guy. So, it was a scramble for two weeks, but it ultimately came together.
You got some good images and it’s going to be a fun, lighthearted way to kick off the season.
Yeah. The plan is, I think every social-analytics person would tell you never launch something Saturday night at 10 p.m., but this is when Anaheim 1 would have wrapped up. So, we couldn’t launch it on a Thursday at 2 p.m. when it would be a sweet spot. It has to be Saturday night at 10 p.m. Pacific Time, just because that’s when Anaheim 1 would have been. A happy coincidence, I think, is that the new TV schedule came out, and with the switch to Peacock I think people are more confused than ever of where to watch this, so that’s going to play into our benefit because people are genuinely going to think the second Saturday of [January], there has to be racing somewhere. I don’t know where to watch it, so…
I missed the first one. I got to find the second one.
Exactly. So, we think that there’s so much confusion naturally out there that I think we’re going to get a lot of people who go to bed on the East Coast and guys that go to bed in Europe are going to wake up Sunday morning hopefully with a bombardment of Anaheim images of Justin with pyro going off and holding a trophy that they’re going to think they missed the race. So that’s kind of the whole goal is just to embrace it. We’re a fun brand. I think you might see a red plate on this bike in Houston, because he’s the points leader. He won Anaheim. Prove me wrong. I have the images to show you. It’s a fun time.
On a more serious note, Barcia could kick off the 2021 Supercross season with a real win this coming weekend in Houston. He has a history of starting Supercross seasons strong. What does Troy Lee think about stepping up from several years of running a 250SX team to having a 450 rider that has won races?
Big news obviously is Justin Barcia coming aboard, a multi-time 450 race winner. Tell us about what that feels like having that caliber of a racer on your team as you transition to 450s and what you see going forward this year.
Troy Lee: It’s a dream come true. It was a little bit of a shock five months ago when we started talking about this and seeing if we could make the transition, but I’m like, we’ve got to do this no matter what. It was just trying to get everybody at my company on board because we had everything ready to roll out for the 250 program and the pandemic and everything else. I can’t thank all my employees enough and everybody and the new sponsors that we brought on. It’s amazing. I was so stoked to be running the 250 Red Bull KTM team, but now we’re in the premier class and Barcia has been a great friend. I’ve painted some helmets for him. We’ve known each other for a long time. He’s so much fun to work with. He fits the brand perfect. So when that fell into place it was just like, yes! We’re going to Anaheim. We’re going to win Anaheim! Then we saw the schedule and we were like, ugh. I was so mad. I was like, no way! So that’s how we pulled that other program together. It’s amazing. I feel so lucky, so fortunate. GasGa
s is a little bit more fun brand, which is awesome too. I think it’s a good thing. We’re going to throw a little Spanish flavor into it too. It’s out of Girona, Spain. I like the trials bikes. I’m going to get a trials bike so I can start playing around a little bit. Thank you to Red Bull. Thank you to KTM for giving me the opportunity. John Hinz and Stefan Pierer and Pit Beirer have been amazing. They always let me throw my own little flare into it.
The design of the GasGas seems like a new blank canvas for you and all the design and style stuff that you always implement. How much fun has that been designing?
Yeah, it’s been fun. We brought Sony Pictures in, so we got some really cool things going with Sony to do some new things with them. We’re going to race some Venom gear and Venom helmets from the movie. That will help launch the movie in June. Atari Hotels came in. That’s awesome. We’re working on a bunch of stuff with Atari. PPG has been amazing. They just painted our rig last year and I had to call and said, can we strip this down and repaint it again? They were like, what? We’ve been working a lot of weekends, the employees at nights, just trying to redo all the pit uniforms and clothing.
You did a full rebrand in not much time.
Yeah, a small, little window. Basically, when we signed this thing it was like, we might be going to Anaheim wearing T-shirts. But we pulled it all together. I’m stoked. My son, Max, now is working with all the athletes, working with Barcia. So, it’s super fun working with my son. It’s a big team effort. I’m smiling. Can’t wait to fly to Texas next week. CN