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Founder of Moto 4 Kids Racing - John Simanovich

In our first episode of 2023, we'll talk with John Simanovich, founder of Moto 4 Kids racing and dive into the interesting details of his organization. Learn more at Moto4Kids.racing.

Dave Sulecki:

Hello everybody, and welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the show that keeps you up to speed on the latest in motorcycling and brings the biggest names in the motorcycle industry right to you. I'm Dave Sulecki.

Dale Spangler:

I'm Dale Spangler. And this week, our guest is John Simanovich, Founder of the Southern California motocross racing series, Moto4Kids.

This episode of Pit Pass Moto is brought to you by MotoAmerica. MotoAmerica's the home of AMA Superbike Racing, and is North America's premier motorcycle road racing series.

Rewatch every round of the 2022 series and revisit all the action with the MotoAmerica Live Plus video-on-demand streaming service. Or visit the MotoAmerica YouTube channel for race highlights and original video content.

To view the complete 2023 MotoAmerica race schedule, head over to motoamerica.com, and be sure to follow MotoAmerica on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for real-time series updates.

Welcome everyone to episode 151 of Pit Pass Moto. Hope everybody had a great holiday season. As always, we appreciate you, our listeners and we'd love to hear from you.

If you happen to have some ideas for show guests or even a topic you'd like us to discuss in our all access conversation, head over to pitpassmoto.com/contact. Send us a little message through the contact form. We'd love to hear from you.

So, anyways, racing season has begun, Dave. Anaheim 1 did not disappoint. What did you think?

Dave Sulecki:

No, it never does. It's always something I tell people, something weird is going to happen when Anaheim 1 comes around. And we had I think probably one of the more interesting racetracks to start the season for sure because it was rough and tumble out there, man.

Dale Spangler:

Yes, the track was so challenging. In fact, I think I wrote a quote down because it stood out to me. Tomac said that I think it was one of the top three most difficult tracks he's ever raced. When somebody like that says it's difficult, you know it's probably one of those where like you and I would have a hard time even getting a lap around that track.

Dave Sulecki:

Oh, I couldn't imagine. It got really soft between the jumps, the transfers as they call them, lot of ruts in between. So, when you landed from a jump, you never knew which way he was going to send you. And I think that couple of riders paid the price because of that.

And Tomac got the monkey off his back, Jett got the monkey off his back. They both took home A 1s. How about that?

Dale Spangler:

Yep. And only took him 10 tries, for Tomac? So, that's his 10th A1.

Dave Sulecki:

He said his average finish at Anaheim 1 was 10th.

Dale Spangler:

Really?

Dave Sulecki:

Yeah. Over those nine years prior. The guy looked so happy and was just having so much fun on his new bike. There's Tomac and I got to mention also Ferrandis on the same bike. Just looked so comfortable and so energized to be racing out there, even though the track was a big challenge. Just a big smile on his face after that Moto.

Dale Spangler:

Definitely. Well, it could have been so much easier for him. As we know, he was leading and then did — I call it a scrub crash over the tabletop jump where he just basically laid it sideways, laid it down. Luckily, he didn't get hit like he almost got hit by Roczen and I forget who else was behind him.

But anyways, drops to 5th, mounts a classic Eli Tomac charge. And I think in this case, if it wouldn't have been such a difficult track, he might not have gotten back to 5th. But just because he is a beast, he was able to work his way from about 5th, I think he fell to, all the way back to the lead.

A couple of the guys up there like Chase Sexton, I think he was looking like he was a little tired towards the end, maybe a little arm pump or something. But as we know, the first race, there's jitters. Get that one out of the way, he was able to grab third place.

But how about Cooper Webb? I think he served notice that he's back for this year. He's going to be a title contender.

Dave Sulecki:

So, is the KTM curse over, huh?

Dale Spangler:

Yeah.

Dave Sulecki:

So, he looked comfortable enough to win and I thought that was a very Webb-like track because he's like Tomac in that way. If it gets a little gnarly, you can't count the guy out.

But here's the thing, Anaheim 1 2022, Webb got second place. So, he kind of finished where most people probably thought he should have finished. But yeah, I agree. Hats off to him.

He was kind of opportunistic with his finish because he took off some riders that kind of fell away like Mookie, who had some bad luck with that, looked like a mis-shift or caught a neutral on that transfer jump, and went down pretty hard. I think he was seeing birdies flying around his helmet.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah. Oddly enough, it was very reminiscent of like the Chad Reed crash in World Supercross where I think that was a fuel-prompt related issue. But in this case, it just like he down sided and like there was nothing there so he just completely went over the bars.

Luckily, it seems like all these racers that went down pretty hard like Pierce Brown was another one. Austin Forkner, Shane McElrath and then Mookie, of course too, Stewart. Like supposedly they're doing okay. Pierce Brown had some kind of a contusion, I believe.

Though haven't heard anything about Forkner yet, total bomber deal. We'll have to talk about that too. And same thing with Shane McElrath, rough start for him on the new HEP Suzuki.

Dave Sulecki:

Yeah. And that left one guy on a Suzuki in the race. And I got to say, 100% of the Suzukis on the track finished in the top 10. So, hats off to Kickstart Kenny with his fifth overall on the HEP Suzuki. And did look super comfortable. He was aggressive and even took the lead for a brief moment early in the Moto, but ended up kind of fading back.

I don't know, he just looked like he's still kind of getting used to the bike and maybe they had some setup issues. I don't know. The track was a challenge, so I think for him to go top five on the weekend was still pretty good.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah. And I kind of wonder when the last time there was a Suzuki in the top five in the 450 class. I mean, I don't know that, but-

Dave Sulecki:

Yeah, pretty rare.

Dale Spangler:

… it's been a while, that's for sure.

Dave Sulecki:

But for me, the big surprise of the night in the 450 class I thought was Colt Nichols in his 450 debut on Team Honda, takes sixth overall. So, hats off to Nichols. I say don't sleep on him. I think he'll get a podium before this series is over, if not better.

I'm really impressed with what he did as far as just being calm and careful, and just riding smart the entire evening and qualifying leading up to that final.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah, especially 450 debut, first day one on a 450. I think that's a good call. He really did well to come out with the 6th place finish.

I also think same thing for Ferrandis. Like I think I heard one interview where he said that was his best A1 finish and he felt like it was one of his best 450 Supercross rides to date. And so, I mean, fourth place, I don't think that really tells how fast he was going.

And so, I think we're going to probably be seeing definitely a Ferrandis podium, but I think he's got the speed to take a win this year.

Dave Sulecki:

Honestly, I think you're right and I think he probably will before Mookie will, but that's just my personal opinion.

But I want to talk about the Austrian bikes. So, the Austrian brands made up 45% of the field, so 10 of the 22 bikes in that final were from Austria. Either GasGas, KTM or Husqvarna. But only two finished in the top 10.

So, what's that tell you? Do they really have the bike sorted out? I don't know. I think we'll have to watch that as these races continue as they head into what's going to look like a real wet and sloppy Oakland race coming up this next weekend.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah, the old bomb cyclones just not letting up, is it? It's looking like it's pretty much — I don't see how it's not going to be a mud race at Oakland. I mean, even if they do … because they got to build the track first and it's supposed to rain there all week.

And so, I don't really see how they're going to get around even if they try and cover the track. But yeah, it's going to be an interesting round two, that's for sure.

Dave Sulecki:

So, how about that 250 class, what you think of that, Dale? I mean, honestly, to me, Jett Lawrence, just the guy can't miss. He can't seem to do anything wrong on a dirt bike. And like I said, he got the A1 monkey off his back after that grueling win last year. But how about that Jett Lawrence, man? He just looked so steady.

Dale Spangler:

I know, I did. It was almost like a little bit boring, I hate to say that. But like he was so good. And just everything was a little less eventful in the 250 class compared to the 450 class, that's for sure.

But the big thing there was just a bummer again for the third year in a row, title rival, Austin Forkner goes out in the freaky start crash, and it's just the weirdest thing ever. I swear the guy just can't catch a break, can he?

Dave Sulecki:

Oh, he definitely caught some breaks there. I think the word is still out on what's broken, but I hope the young man is okay because you hate to see it just keep happening to him every year where it happens early in the series and he is out of it and he's definitely got the speed to win the series.

But going back to Jett, his lap time, you would've put him in a top five in the 450 class. That's how fast he was going by the way.

Dale Spangler:

So smooth.

Dave Sulecki:

Just wanted to mention that. But yeah, Forkner, he got into Hampshire's rear wheel it kind of looked like and it took him sideways and high sighted him and just kind of ragged all down the track and he wasn't 30 feet out of the gate.

So, really disappointing to see his season start that way. But the flip side of that is Cameron McAdoo taking third on the podium, just looks steady and strong and he'll probably win one this year. I really hope to see Cameron pull some.

Dale Spangler:

Definitely. Well, R.J. Hampshire was definitely impressive. Won his heat race, went on to finish the strong second place, passed Cameron McAdoo who ended up in the final podium spot.

So, I think that track, to me, Anaheim 1 might not have been a good indication of how the rest of the race is going to go. I think McAdoo and Hampshire are going to be even more competitive when we get on a track, that's maybe not quite as radded and holes everywhere, digging in. Like we said, it's going to be muddy this weekend.

So, all bets are off when it comes to the rain, so you don't know who's going to win when it's muddy. And it might be an opportunity for somebody like Hampshire to come through and take the win this coming weekend.

Dave Sulecki:

Yeah. They say the mud is the great equalizer and I a hundred percent agree with that. And saw some fresh new names though in that top 10, in that 250 class. And I want to mention, make a shout out to Enzo Lopes, who I think he led qualifying going into the final and ended up finishing 6th overall.

And two of the new young star riders, you had Levi Kitchen and Stilez Robertson on the Star Yamaha's finishing inside the top 10. So, these young new names that they brought on board and hope to make a run of it.

And also, I think this might be the breakout season for young Max Vohland, that KTM rider. He had a top five, he finished 5th. So, let's keep an eye on these guys as they roll into Oakland. If there is a race or if it gets rained out or canceled, we don't know yet, but we'll keep an eye on it.

Dale Spangler:

One other thing I thought I'd mention before we get onto our interview, Dakar week one has just wrapped up and in fact, today, they're on rest day. And after eight stages of the total of 14 stages that will be completed, they're on a much needed rest day today.

And the big news is though, American Skyler Howes is leading the overall. And he's a friend of the show and so, we couldn't be more excited for him. Wow, like unbelievable, the Factory Husqvarna. He's in first place and then American Mason Klein is in third place.

And so, unfortunately, Ricky Brabec, he went out on stage three with the crash. So, unfortunately, he's out for this year's series. But yeah, really cool to see Skyler Howes do it so well. He just seems like he's still levelheaded, keeping cool. He's got an amazing handlebar mustache he's rocking. So, I'm hoping that we'll see this time next week, we'll be talking about him being another American Dakar Rally Champion.

And one other shout out. Another friend of the show, Jacob Argubright. He sits 25th overall in his maiden Dakar. Great job to him. And so, if you haven't yet, make sure you check in on the Dakar and see if another American takes the Dakar win.

[Music playing]

Dale Spangler:

We'd like to welcome to Pit Pass Moto, the Founder of Moto 4 Kids Racing, John Simanovich. John, how are you doing today?

John Simanovich:

Hi, Dale. Doing great. And man, hopefully, you guys and all the listeners are doing well here in the new year. Been an exciting one and excited to get it kicked off here with Pit Pass Moto. Thank you, guys, so much for having me.

Dale Spangler:

Absolutely. How's life been treating you? I know you've been busy with your race series. Did you get time to head over to watch the races this past weekend at A1?

John Simanovich:

Ah, we sure did. My wife and my two little boys had an opportunity to get out there to A1 and check out some of the pit party action and the fan fest zone. And I think you guys probably saw it from home, man. What a great evening of racing.

The lites class or the 250 class was a bit of a snore, I'd say, just based on kind of no real action. But man, the 450 main event had all the action.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah. Over delivered on the 450, didn't it?

John Simanovich:

Yeah, it was super cool. And pits were packed, so love to see that. I think it was a real weird time last year in 2022, kicking off the season, coming off of kind of COVID and everybody unsure of what was going on. So, it was really nice just to see the pits packed and it was full of energy, that's for sure.

Dale Spangler:

Definitely. So, let's talk about the main reason we wanted to have you on the show, besides being a super rad dude, long industry associate like Dave and I. You came up with this idea for this racing series in Southern California called Moto 4 Kids Racing.

And if I’m not mistaken, you just finished your second full year of racing with the series. And tell us about how this idea came about to create Moto 4 Kids Racing.

John Simanovich:

I think with anything, it really came from just the passion of racing as ourselves. And early on, there were some other individuals that we had kind of partnered with and I think over a short period of time, we realized maybe they weren't the right partners. But what it did do is really challenge me to kind of rise to the occasion.

We knew what the opportunity looked like and how we could kind of develop this series, to your point ,specifically, for kids. The youth 4 to 17 is really our age range. And with that kind of coming off of COVID, so a really a COVID project, and not understanding the overall size and where we thought we could take this thing was a real eyeopener after we kind of kicked off in 2021 in our first race.

And really, I think just saw the need coming out of that kind of COVID time and where everybody was really trying to get out of the house and wanted something to do.

And so, that's where it stuck, and we kind of took the right steps to develop it with offering what I felt were the right classes to segue a day, but also provide competition. Among with the competition obviously, comes community, and that was a big thing for us. It’s like how do we develop this competition level to make sure that it breeds really a great community of young riders and families alike.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah. A couple of things that I noticed about your series that really kind of separates it, is you have like these sort of segments. You break it up into, you call them Thriller Beezzz, which is super cool, which is kind of your spring series. And then you have Summer School when the kids are out, and then you have a fall series called Rad Riders.

So, how did that come about? Because I mean, it seems like you were really behind the marketing and kind of just trying to create this series with just doing things differently. And so, let's talk a little bit more about that and like so, what does differentiate your series from others out there?

John Simanovich:

Yeah. I think to your point, it's seasonalities. And you typically find with local series that you'll get four or five round series that will make up just that series.

When we started off, it really began with being about the future stars. That's what we envisioned. It's like the future stars and the former stars. The former stars were kind of the dads and the parents that maybe had their time to shine, but now, is really focusing on the future stars.

So, our first series, we really didn't have a name. We're like, “Let's just run with it. Do we really need a series name?” And then when we really started to develop it to position as far as having those different races within these series where we developed kind of the names.

And the Thriller Beezzz came from like, if you can imagine like ‘65s, ‘85s or like the ‘50s, the buzzing noise that they make coming off the starter into turn one. That was kind of the feel for it and kind of what we felt like, “Ah, so it's Thriller Beezzz, it's the buzz of the motorcycles.”

Dale Spangler:

I didn't know if it was Wu-Tang — there's a Wu-Tang reference a little bit there, they’re like Wu-Tang Killa Beez, that's Thriller Beezzz.

John Simanovich:

No, you're absolutely right. I was growing up listening to music or rap, and I think that's what we take a lot from. You take a lot of these things and kind of that old adage like what's old is now new again.

So, we really wanted to develop these series that I think just have these kind of crafty names, but really had substance as far as what we could to do to develop it. From the t-shirts, the branding play. Now, everything's so socially driven and I think that's just been such a great tool for us.

And then to your point, like our summer series that we developed, we really wanted to look to bring substance to each race. It's not just about racing as a whole, but it's about how we can kind of drive more substance and do things to help educate.

So, we really wanted to use the platform for our summer series, which we partnered with On Track School. If you're familiar with the Leib family, Andrea or Michael Leib, the son of then ex pro racer.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah.

John Simanovich:

They have such a great platform for distance learning and I just felt, “Man, how can we develop this?” So, we are COVID times, people are uncertain if they want to send their kids back to school, whether that's public or private school. But distance learning has really become a thing for a lot of parents and gave them another option.

And so, for me, it was like, “Man, this is such a cool thing and they're so invested in amateur motocross.” So, working closely with Andrea and Don Leib, we came up with the On Track School summer series. Three round series, really kind of giving, again, just more substance to give an outlet and educate some of the parents that just maybe didn't feel they had that extra option outside of public or private schooling.

Dale Spangler:

We'll get back to the conversation in one moment, but first, here's a word from our sponsor.

Dave Sulecki:

So, John, I'm curious to ask, the Austrian brands have brought out the e-bikes in those mini classes, and I wanted to ask you, how's the turnout been for the e-bike level classes and what's been the acceptance from the general race families and public? I mean, has it been a big deal that the e-bikes have been kind of merged into the series or what do you see it with how that's going?

John Simanovich:

It's been a huge success for us. Early on when we started this class, it was really pretty dismal. We had maybe a handful of riders and I think now, at any given race, we're able to see upwards of 10 or 15 riders in that class.

So, the introductory point for a lot of these families, what I'm seeing is the minimal workload for on the parents to get the bikes ready for the race weekend. It's typically, make sure the battery's charged, spokes are tight, do a once over bolt check, and make sure you got some air in the tires and you can go racing with the mini e-class.

And so, yeah, I have seen a lot of success in that class. I think you're going to continue to see it. We've just recently purchased my son an SX-E5 during Christmas.

So, I think the point of entry is pretty light outside of the cost incurred, obviously, with purchasing the motorcycle. But I think it does take an ease off of like what you would see typically, maybe like a BMX family trying to find that next alternative to go racing and obviously, that being motocross.

Dave Sulecki:

So, kind of with that in mind, do you see that as a potential? We're always looking for ways to kind of grow our sport, bring new people, outside people into the sport.

Do you see that as maybe a lever we could pull that would draw somebody into the sport that wouldn't be less intimidated by an e-bike versus, as you've mentioned, the maintenance and all the things that you have to have right, in order to get the bike on the track. Do you see maybe that as a lever we could pull to kind of help you continue to grow the sport?

John Simanovich:

I think you're seeing it right now. I think what KTM's been able to do with the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge, that's inviting. That welcomes people from the home front to really see that on such a national scale or international scale to bring visibility to what those motorcycles are doing right now in this space.

I think you guys have seen it with Greenger and Honda, Torrot, that are kind of coming into the marketplace. I think it's a great point of entry for these kids. Like I said, many of them, they start on a BMX level, so to have that really kind of ease to get into the sport, I think it's been accepted.

I think you're seeing more with some of the other motorcycle brands that are coming out with more of an electric motorcycle. It's really difficult to say maybe from an older skewing demo where they're going to always challenge it.

But I think for the young parents maybe like myself, see the ease of what KTM has been able to do or the KTM group has been able to do with the GasGas and the Husqvarna line to introduce and get new riders on what I feel is kind of a really important segment for what we're trying to do for the future.

Dale Spangler:

So, I've noticed, like following your social media, you do a lot of like little special things for the riders that show up, like very unique trophies. Like I think you give like a wiener schnitzel, like a gift card for like a lunch. You've done like a really amazing banquet I think the last couple years.

So, talk about that a little bit more, like how you try and make it a little bit more kind of special than say some other races where you go and like you get a trophy and that's about it. Seems like you're just doing some really unique cool things.

John Simanovich:

I've just seen over the years, I think there's been a lot of take, take, take from a lot of race promotions on a lot of different levels. And I think for myself, I saw the challenges growing up, whether they were something we ever really spoke about in the household and the struggles to get to the race or to be able to get through the front gate. Just to even get to that point was a challenge.

I think and it still is, it's really relevant in the space that we're in. It's motorcycling inherently, it's expensive. So, if we can take any step to kind of give back to the parents and to the kids — I always liked what baseball or football had done for like the junior leagues and offering a banquet or an award ceremony. I just don't think that's ever really been done in our sport.

I think at the end of the year is something that everybody does, but for us, what we try to do is be in the moment with those particular series. And so, we have. We've developed an awards banquet, we do take a little bit more of the Reese's sources to lean on some of our sponsors to do really cool giveaways.

And with our awards banquet, to your point, we can do really special trophies. We can do something that these kids … it's not a paper plate, and over a handful of years, dad decides to kind of toss it away. These are trophies that we feel that not only just the parents, but the kids are going to want to hold onto these for many years to come.

And our hope’s that they'll be able to share those with some of their kids down the line and again, something that they can be proud to hold onto.

Dale Spangler:

Yeah, absolutely. I think Dave and I can attest to … I mean, we probably had just room full of just the same trophies, almost like replicas of them for hundreds of them.

Dave Sulecki:

Oh yeah.

Dale Spangler:

And so, yeah, having those unique special trophies, I mean, those are the ones that I still have. Like hanging on my walls are those kind of special and different ones. So, kudos to you guys for doing just that, kind of making it that little bit more special.

John Simanovich:

Yeah, no, it's been so fun. I think that's the best part, doing these banquets, getting to honor these kids for their efforts and for their commitment to racing. And with us especially, it goes a long way. And we want to make sure that we can continue to develop that to be unique in the marketplace. And I think that's what we've been able to do so well here.

And again, we're still young, we're only in our year number three and still have big aspirations to do some bigger events like we have calendared for this year, and I think that's a big compliment to those families for their commitment.

Dale Spangler:

Absolutely. Now, another aspect I've noticed that your series is behind is working with charity organizations and doing fundraisers. Like I noticed you're working with the Kurt Caselli Foundation and then you recently did something with the Ryan Dungey Foundation.

It seems like that's another aspect of what you're doing to help just grow the sport and build everybody up within the industry. Going into creating this series, was that something that you knew you wanted to make a part of this?

John Simanovich:

You know what, I don't think initially it was something that we really had in mind. I think for us, it was really just to develop a program that we felt was strong. Something that everybody could get behind and really feel like, “Wow, okay, this is great racing, it's great atmosphere.”

I always just felt like if we had this community of riders and families that were engaged with what we're doing, how could we engage other avenues? Much like you said, with working with some of these nonprofit organizations, toy drives and things that I know if we have the substance and we have, again, that community together that we could really drive and get behind some of these great nonprofits or good individuals.

That just I think do really great things for our industry that sometimes, they're not quick to tout about. I think it's kind of a concealed thing and obviously, they want to try to get as many eyeballs on it to bring some awareness.

And I think that's where we were able to kind of come in with this great racing community that we have and bring some awareness to the Ryan Dungey Foundation and their efforts for St. Jude. But also, to get kids on bikes at a young age or at the kindergarten level. And which has been super fun for us to work alongside Lauren and the Ryan Dungey Foundation, and Ryan's very, very much involved in that.

So, it's been such a great compliment to our program and we're just thankful for everybody that's really stood behind us to help.

Dave Sulecki:

So, I noticed on your sponsor page that you've got GoFastGirls as one of the contributors to your program. Are they still part of that program?

John Simanovich:

Yeah, they sure are. Bear Scharbarth and Kristen Scharbarth, such a great family and they're entrenched in motor sports in general. And I think you guys know, it's like the girls market is pretty strong on all fronts in motor sports.

Probably not to the level that we would like to see competitively, but yes, they stand behind our program really well and they're kind of a great key to some of the girls classes that we offer.

We're really unique in our race offerings. We do have three specific girl classes that we do offer. So, if you look at some of the other venues or say larger promoters, they really only offer maybe one girl class.

And so, for us, I just felt that there was such a community of young girl riders that we should be able to offer something that's more tailored to their bike size and their age demographic. And that's where we've been able to kind of break through and offer something a little bit more specific to again, just the bike size and the girls and their ages.

Dave Sulecki:

Yeah. And you're kind of in a unique position to kind of see, is it growing or is it stagnant or is it not going anywhere? But with the enthusiasm I hear in your voice, it sounds to me like it's a growing thing. And that's a good thing, I think, to see more ladies come into the sport and see how far they can go. Do you see it growing?

John Simanovich:

I believe it is. It's tough because we're so small, we're just this little nugget out here in Southern California, but I think it's having great partners that can bring a little bit more visibility to what we're doing, and we have seen those numbers grow and that's been tremendous for us.

We've really allowed the girls to have that one focus in one class, and then with that, they can go into what would be a more of an age-appropriate class with the boys. So, allow the girls to kind of have their own focus in their own class, and then they can kind of step down into what would be their second class offering to go battle with the boys.

Dave Sulecki:

That's great that you're tailoring it and making it fit for the people that need to get involved in the sport and grow with it.

But I can imagine on a race day or let's say a race weekend that running that series, you've got your hands full. I mean, I imagine you're wearing a lot of hats probably all week leading up to an event. But what's a typical race day like for you and what's some of the more challenging aspects of running an event like that?

John Simanovich:

I think a lot of it is building the communication level with the tracks. We want to make sure that we're associating ourselves with great tracks that really support our efforts with the kids. And that's really been a big thing for us.

We want to have really good alignment and work at those particular tracks or individuals that really see the value in what we're doing. Again, it's very unique, it only focuses on the youth. So, if we can drive a high level of participation mixed in with a high level of promotion, coupled with really great racing, I think that's kind of like our kind of pillar, is that right there.

There's a lot that goes into it. I have a wonderful wife who has a full-time job already, and she's been able to really help and be supportive on these efforts on so many different levels. As you know, there's a lot that goes into event promotions and I've been fortunate to make this really more of a full-time program where we can really set the focus on it.

So, it's really not just the job, but now, really making it a career and something that I think that we can see a lot of growth out of with having the right partners, going to the right tracks, and providing a great race platform.

Dale Spangler:

So, I'm curious to know, as someone who's started their own business two years ago myself, what's been the most rewarding part of this? Starting your own motorcycle race series and your own business?

I mean, that's just got to be incredibly rewarding. As Dave said, it's got to be incredibly difficult too. Kind of a little bit love-hate sometimes. But it's got to be rewarding when you leave a track at the end of a weekend and you got to feel good about it.

John Simanovich:

I do. It's very rewarding. It has its challenges and so you don't take those challenges very lightly. You definitely want to try to face them and hit them head on.

And I think that's what's so rewarding at the end of the day when you see the hard work and the efforts that myself, my family, all the great partners that we have directly with our organization that help with registration; our timing team, our safety flag team. There's so many different elements.

And so, yes, anytime that we have these individuals there to support us, we don't take that lightly. We understand that everybody has a commitment elsewhere and typically, that's what the family — and if we're not able to do the job, then we understand that, man, maybe time is better spent at home.

And I think that's a challenge for us too. We have two young boys that aren't quite really at that racing level, but are starting to understand, “Well, mom and dad are gone on the weekends quite often.”

And I think that's been probably the most challenging part is on the weekends separating ourselves from our family and going out. And what I'll say is sometimes feel like you're babysitting other family's kids. And I say that nicely because again, we love what we do.

But when you do run into those challenges, I think that for us, we try to look beyond it. But before looking beyond it, we want to address those issues or challenges and make sure that we're taking the right steps beyond that to go forward.

Again, with those big commitments on the weekend, we want to make sure that we're having good alignment with going to the right tracks that really want to support our efforts. Because if not, it's for nothing then.

Dale Spangler:

Yep. Well, one of those tracks that you have coming up as we close down here on this interview with you, well, let's talk about your 2023 series. You had this really cool race coming up called the Youth Moto Mania hopefully, coming up this weekend if the rain will give us a break, that you guys are getting in Southern California.

But tentatively, it's set for this weekend, January 13th through the 15th at Fox Raceway, if I'm not mistaken, right? So, tell us a little bit about this event you have coming up.

John Simanovich:

Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, it's been really cool, kind of this idea growing up and watching through like the ‘80s and ‘90s, like if you envision wrestling in the ‘90s, that's kind of the look and feel I really wanted to go with to offer this.

So, yeah, Youth Moto Mania is what we came up with. We've been blessed to work with again, Fox Raceway as a great hosting partner at the track. And then in addition to that, Fox Racing has actually since came on board to support our racing efforts and that's been probably one of the largest compliments that I think we've received as being young race promoters is having such a starship, so to speak, brand out there that really sees what we're doing in the marketplace.

And so, to have Fox Racing come on board has been really amazing. And we hope the rain will subside and allow us to get this first race off. It will be our first run at what is now AMA. So, we're going to go AMA for this event. We're an affiliate partner with AMA and understand there's a lot of growth that we're going to need to do to develop this thing and what we would hope would be a featured event for them in the future.

And yeah, we're excited. Youth Moto Mania, it's really something cool and unique out there. Again, it's still focusing on just at the youth, 4 to 17. We've been able to develop some of the classes to kind of mirror exactly like what AMA or MX Sports is doing out there.

So, it's not a distant throw for these families when they do decide to go to the national level and do go try to race Lorettas and be successful like our good buddy, Dale, here.

Dale Spangler:

Well, and then after that, then February, I think the Thriller Beezzz Series starts up then?

John Simanovich:

Yep, that's right. So, the Thriller Beezzz will kick off and that'll be our second year. And so cool we just have such great creative behind everything and I think that's what really keeps it unique and we're really happy to kind of get the series started here for year number three.

And again, I think with each year we just want to try to develop it to be what we hope would be just that much more better year over year.

Dale Spangler:

Well, John, we really appreciate. Everyone in the industry I think is probably appreciates people like you who go the extra mile. Obviously, you didn't have to start this race series, but you did and you're doing great things with it and so, really cool to see.

And where could people find you though, find more information if they happen to live in the Southern California area or even some of the outlying states? How can they find out more information about the Moto 4 Kids Racing Series?

John Simanovich:

Yeah, I think the social media has been such a great tool for us. So, it's at moto4kids.racing. Again, that's at moto4kids.racing. You guys can find all the details, we're very active on that.

And then obviously, you can go directly to our website, www.moto4kids.racing again. And you can find all the details that you guys would need through the year. We have all of our calendars up to date, and really pretty active on that.

You guys can go directly through our registration portal and find out all the class offerings and any of the details that any young family looking to break into motocross would want to find.

Dale Spangler:

John, again, doing great stuff. We appreciate your time today and all the best on a fantastic 2023 race season.

John Simanovich:

Dale, thank you guys so much. Dave, the entire team, we really appreciate you guys for considering us to come on here in the new year. Pit Pass Moto, we appreciate you guys.

[Music playing]

Dave Sulecki:

If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow Pit Pass Moto on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. If you have a moment, please rate and review our show. We'd really appreciate it.

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and visit pitpassmoto.com where you can check out our blog, listen to past episodes, and purchase your own Pit Pass Moto swag.

Dale Spangler:

This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Tommy Boy Halverson and the production team at Wessler Media. I'm Dale Spangler.

Dave Sulecki:

And I'm Dave Sulecki. See you next week on Pit Pass Moto.


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The Team

Dave Sulecki

Host
Dave Sulecki is a 37 year industry veteran, and a lifetime motorcycle rider, racer, builder, restorer, and enthusiast.

Dale Spangler

Host
Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast, former racer, and powersports industry marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.

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