Some of you know me, others don’t. To be fair I’m not really bothered how you feel about my credentials, but I’ll give them anyway. I’m James Burfield, the founder of MX Vice and director of engagement for Piptook, and I’ve been working in digital since 1999. This means you might think you know a bit but, trust me, you’re just scratching the surface.
To back up my knowledge I have also worked for many of the leading brands in a digital capacity you wear or use day-to-day, the brands with average social and digital performance you don’t see much online are yet to call me. Yep, it sounds big headed, but I’m good at this. I have the data and I have the insights; I’m not making guesses, as I already have the answers. But, just because I know a bit doesn’t mean to say I can stop learning. Every day the digital landscape changes from these things called ‘algorithms’.
If a company wants to make more money they change their algorithm to make sure you pay them more money to promote and keep the shareholders and the market happy. It’s my job to keep my clients one step ahead of these changes, find influencers and produce something called an ROI (return on investment). Crazily enough these guys want results on the extortionate amounts of money they pay me.
Now that I have got my intro out the way, let’s talk about the real reason you’re reading this article. Motocross is expensive and you need support. The landscapes are changing and riders with a large social media presence are getting paid just as much as the people grinding out the results. Why? Well, if you’re reliant on getting a picture in a magazine read by two-thousand people to help your sponsors sell more products then you don’t stand a chance. The people still using this as a metric to measure with will be out of a job very soon. A brand will now look at how much you can influence your following. You need a following and I’m not talking about your four hundred and twenty-four mates on Facebook.
What I want you guys to do is start thinking about the basics. How many of you actually tag a sponsor into a post who currently support you, whether it is free kit or a 10% discount? How many of you have a Facebook business page? For those that think just because you are an amateur or youth rider and you don’t need a Facebook page think again. I have lost count of the amount of riders I have seen with personal Facebook pages who are thanking people and explaining how their race went the weekend, then two posts later are sharing a racist or controversial post.
Let me let you into a little secret: This makes current and potential sponsors very twitchy. I had a two-hour meeting with a client today who wanted to help out a local lad, but follow what he posts on social media. That client does not want to be associated with that rider’s opinion, no matter how good he/she is. They don’t want their brand associated with controversy, as it’s hard enough out there to make sales in competitive markets without being connected to that.
Here is another little secret: These companies are checking your social not only to see if you are able to bring something to the table, other than results, but also to influence. Are you able to talk to your community of friends, family and people who take an interest in your riding and talk positively about the products you use? There are companies checking this and there are companies measuring this. Did you know that there are tools out there being used by Fox, Monster, Seven and many other brands that can analyse to see if you talk positively or negatively on social and how you are perceived? Like I said, you think you may know a little about social. But, trust me, there are tools out there that will probably make you think about closing your social media accounts altogether.
If you have read this far, I’m going to first say thank you and I’m also going to reward you with a list of things to do and avoid. Why? I want to help you. I want to see motocross expand, not decrease, and by you promoting yourself properly means you are promoting these brands, which in turn makes these brands support the sport more as their sales increase.
Right, here is your homework…
– Create an athlete business page on Facebook.
– Add a good profile picture and a cover photo.
– Add images, videos and reports if you have them.
– Add any links to websites or magazines (scan them in).
– Start producing your own race reports, but if you missed some of school then please get someone to check your grammar and spelling. For those with no friends, there is an app/tool called ‘Grammarly.’ It’s free!
– Follow any company that supports you on social media by liking their page.
You have now taken the first step into being professional without being a professional. A little fun fact, only two riders in the top ten in the Maxxis British Championship have Facebook business pages. What are the eight people without it doing to get sponsorship for next year?
Regarding your Facebook personal page, I would recommend thinking twice about what to post if you are looking for support. This information and knowledge I’m sharing is absolutely wasted on you if you share racist, homophobic or other controversial posts that would distress people. The same goes for Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat … Yep, you read that right, they look at that too.
This article and further articles are for those people who want to get the support and understand that they need to do this, but quite frankly don’t know what the best way forward is. So, for those who are keen and want to crack on before next week’s social media post, here are some more…
– Create a Twitter account for riding.
– Create an Instagram account for riding.
– If you want to post personal content, I suggest making your personal accounts private and make sure that your friends are unable to share your thoughts if they are negative.
– Make sure that no brand owners follow you on your personal account.
Let’s talk about influence and what an influencer is. When you rock up on a Sunday to go racing with your mates, then turn around to talk about Ken Roczen’s post or Axell Hodges’ huge whip, you are talking about influencers. What they have posted has influenced you and if your friends answer, then they are influencing them. If this happens daily when you are talking about them over social/text etc. with friends this reinforces that fact that what they are saying/doing is in fact influencing you.
Anyway, to recap all of this…
– I’m good at social media and I want to help you get your shizz together to smash the Dirt Bike Show/EICMA when you go to talk to local companies, dealers or brands.
– Set a Facebook business page up.
– Start looking at what you are posting and how that will be perceived by a company if you are looking for support.
– Understand influencers.
Next week I’m going to give examples and plan a strategy for you.
Words: James Burfield | Images: MPS Images
All six rounds are to be contested in the UK, with the Netherlands on hold until 2025
The team behind the NPC have been viewing multiple sites in the UK that will host the 2024 Championship. Much time has been spent analysing sites for the best combination of track layout, public parking, location, access and activation areas. We are excited to show you what we have been working on.
We have received much feedback from people worried about the rising costs in 2024 and how it will affect them and their racing. Living expenses and uncertainty in the motocross industry have increased and further caused caution. We don’t want to put extra pressure on motocross families; we’re trying to do the opposite. With this in mind, and after much deliberation, we will delay our European involvement until 2025 when inflation, living costs and, more importantly, our riders are excited rather than concerned about European expenses.
Although we are disappointed to put this on hold for twelve months after having two outstanding tracks in the Netherlands, it does mean we will double down on our commitment to bring you the best and most challenging tracks in the UK that you can only ride in the NPC. It is a fascinating time for British Motocross, with some absolute gems being found that will help challenge UK motocross riders to race tracks similar in style and toughness to those at a GP race.
Although a wheel has yet to turn in this Championship, we have shown we are willing to listen and change accordingly to ensure we do what is suitable for British motocross. The Championship was launched to help push and elevate British motocross, and since September, when we announced our decision to run, every other organisation and series has stepped up. We are committed to ensuring the foundations are there for the next British World Champion since Jamie Dobb in 2001.
Whether you are a rider at the front looking to gain valuable race craft to take into EMX races next year or looking to improve by riding the best and most challenging tracks in the UK, this series is for you. We’ll also provide a spotlight for you to shine in front of brands, teams and companies around the World.
Our calendar of tracks is starting to take shape, with Oakhanger and Oxford Moto Parc being two of the six already named. We are committed to ensuring every track offers excellent value for our riders and the NPC so we can keep registration and race fees at a minimum whilst providing nearly £100,000 in prize money. The tracks we choose will also offer some of the best racing for spectators at our events and live on the TV. We have tweaked the times and format of the event to provide the optimum environment for great action-packed racing. Forty riders in MX1 and MX2 classes will give everything to provide an exhilarating 20-minute performance.
In year two, we aim to bring a mainstream TV partner to televise the Championship alongside the live stream to increase the exposure to sponsors entering our series further.
We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and can’t wait to share more information in the new year.
Has British Motocross turned a corner?
British Motocross is a subject I’m very passionate about. It’s the sole reason MX Vice was created back in 2011. At that time there were a few magazines out there, but not many websites. One defining moment for me was seeing Gordon Crockard sit exhausted in a small setup in Denver at the 2010 Motocross of Nations. Ireland had done their usual B final shenanigans, where Crockard finished second to Martin Davalos, Martin Barr third and Stuart Edmonds fifth in a very hot Denver. It took a colossal effort by them, but most notably by Crockard, who was a little older than the young guns of Barr and Edmonds on the team. Watching from afar I could see that Gordon didn’t leave anything on the track on Sunday September 26th, he was spent.
Words: James Burfield | Lead Image: Supplied
I’d never spoken to Gordon before but I felt I needed to go over and speak to him because the amount of respect I had for him that weekend and the Irish team was on another level. The MXDN has a way of bringing out the passion from the fans just as much as the riders and I was totally wrapped up in it as a fan. The best I could offer was ‘that was an amazing effort’ that probably didn’t mean much at the time (Crockard finished 15th overall in MX Open). He smiled, was super polite and talked to me for five minutes before getting changed.
The next day we were in a shopping mall in Denver, I just bought a coffee for myself, my wife and godson, and lo and behold Gordon was sitting down in the mall. He looked up and said “hey how are you?” So I sat down with Gordon, my godson and we spoke about the previous day, what it took for him to achieve what he did that weekend in the heat and altitude of Denver.
When I got back the next few weeks I scoured the internet and magazines and the little that was covered I felt didn’t give the team and Gordon justice. I had been going to the MXDN since 2006 and tried to get to as many GPs as possible from 2006 to 2010, and after buying a bike back in 2005, my bug was firmly back.
Although I have regressed about why I’m passionate about British Motocross I feel like I need to add some context to how I got there. I approached DBR back in 2010 about MX Vice being a possible motocross website to Sean Lawless, as DBR then didn’t do much online. As you would have figured I was turned down, for good reason. I was just a fan, although I had masses of digital knowledge, it didn’t mean anything to the motocross world back then. Whenever I picked up my monthly copies of MotoMag and DBR the stories were tailored around the stars of the sport. I wanted to hear about the journeymen, the riders that work in the week and the epic stories about making it to the line against the best in Britain.
At that time in the UK, Ashley Wilde, Jake Millward, Alan Keet, Adam Sterry, Luke Norris, Lewis Tombs, Josh Waterman, Ross Rutherford, Matthew Moffat, Ross Hill, Rob Davidson, Jordan Divall and Ross Keyworth were among some of the riders that wouldn’t get any coverage. No one was telling their stories or interviewing them. That’s when I knew MX Vice was needed.
For those that have been on this journey with MX Vice you will know the ins and outs of my love affair with British Motocross. So much has happened in those twelve years. I have seen two ACU chairmen come and go, helped form a championship called the MX Nationals, ran two race teams and spent hundreds of thousands on this sport I love. What I have realised in those twelve years is you have to have tough skin, because if you are going to have an opinion that is not shared by people who have a financial interest, then they will go to whatever level they need to go to to protect that interest. So when I started to ask questions that everyone wanted to know the answers to, you were tarnished with being disruptive and toxic.
The UK is a small community of the same people and if you fuck around in their playground you find out, as pressure is applied to business not to work with you. I have been on this constant journey with British motocross, going round in circles.
The opportunity to go to MXGP in 2015 was a breath of fresh air for MX Vice and myself. We felt welcomed and they appreciated the impact we made online and through our social channels, even when our opinion differed we didn’t get alienated, or advertising pulled from us due to pressure.
Weirdly they welcomed the challenge to be better, in fact they were open to hearing if we saw any opportunities to help them improve. This freaked us out for a while and part of us thought, “what’s the catch?” Going to MXGP felt like we moved from primary school to university and skipped secondary with the way people accepted and worked with us. That credit goes down to David Luongo who came in with new ideas and Samanta Gelli who understood our potential from day one.
When you look back to 2008 to 2014 and see the amount of GP riders that were regulars in the British Championship, maybe we were spoiled? Maybe it skewed our vision, but it just wasn’t just us, GP riders and fans were interested in the British scene. What has happened since that time is that the Dutch, German, French, Italian and Spanish championships have evolved, their federations have invested and been very successful with their programs.
Again this has not helped with the perception when looking at British Motocross. Since 2014 I feel there has been glimpses of effort, but in comparison we have become complacent. When you are complacent then other people will see an opportunity, just like MX Vice did with MotoMag and DBR in 2011. Those two juggernauts at the time possibly looked and laughed at the thought of someone like MX Vice passing them.
I want those days back when you were excited to see riders like Arnaud Tonus, Zach Osborne and Christophe Pourcel in MX2 and Matiss Karro, Kevin Strijbos, Shaun Simpson, Stephen Sword, Marc de Reuver in MX1 and you would travel the length of the UK on a Sunday not to miss a round.
Yes we have had COVID, Brexit and now we are in a recession, it’s a difficult time for everyone. The British championship is doing its best given the resources they have along with the MX Nationals. Tracks are charging in the region of £15,000 – £20,000, and gone are the days of volunteer marshalls. The cost to run a national event is around £30,000 to £40,000 per round. Add in to this the industry is spending less on events and marketing to promote their products, services and business, and you can recognise the struggle.
Both championships are run under the ACU, who are the leading federation in the UK, and that won’t possibly change in our lifetime. So as much as people want to moan about what they are not doing, then remember they are not going anywhere either. As the federation for both championships, they are always going to be the target for those people who feel disenfranchised with how the sport is going and it doesn’t help when people perceive other countries are progressing and new organisations like Nora92 are investing back into the sport with an incredible youth program and reduced licence and riding fees.
I believe that the ACU have recognised that things need to change and have understood that the licence fee subscribers are the life force behind their business. The appointment of Tim Lightfoot as chair of the ACU has been a positive one, someone who seems to truly understand that a united British motocross is beneficial to the ACU.
There are some great people within UK motocross who all believe that they know what it needs and when they are not listened to they then decide to adopt the mantra of I’ll just go and do it myself. Tim Lightfoot has the biggest job in motocross right now, and everything to play for.
With the right foresight and understanding what is required from key stakeholders that are jaded he could unite the British motocross scene, skyrocket ACU licences and drive the industry forward. A lot of pressure for one person, but if he can unite the rest of the ACU behind him, then things will change. So a glimmer of hope has happened for the ACU and the national championship, but there will be many who would have heard this all before.
But the hook that got me engaged with British motocross once more was when I heard of the possibility of a new Championship being started for 2024, but with two rounds being run in Europe. As an outsider looking in I would one hundred percent be that guy to say, “Jesus yet another championship” – just what the UK needs. That would have been the general sentiment towards someone starting another championship in the UK. So I needed to know more to understand if this would be a success or not.
Clinton Putnam is the guy who is looking to challenge British motocross to be better, to set a new bar in the hope it will shake it up and take it forward. Clinton was behind the very successful GT Cup and came onboard the MX National series supporting with tracks, infrastructure and vehicles. The same guy who has been behind the explosion of quality new motocross tracks in the UK over the past two years, something that the UK is in dire need of. I spoke to Clinton initially to understand more about the series and what his approach to media would be and see if I could help in any way. His vision is to offer a championship that feels like a GP when you arrive, an emphasis on the pros, along with world class tracks for them to ride on.
A few months ago this was made even more impressive by the fact that Clinton would be running with or without support from the industry, luckily for Clinton there are people, businesses and brands that also share and welcome that vision.
For the past eighteen months I have stayed out of the UK scene thanks to having COVID for five months, which kicked my ass, and then focussing on MXGP to fulfil our contracts. With Arenacross offering £140,000, NPC £98,700, MX Nationals and the British Championship there is finally some good money for pros to earn in 2024 when the economy is struggling! So is this the wind of change that we needed?
Since the new Nora Pro Championship (NPC) was announced it seems to have lifted the industry, federations have upped their game, other championships have got a second wind and the purse strings are a little looser from brands and manufacturers. Who knows where British motocross will be by the end of 2024?
We could be looking back five years from now saying where we would be without Clinton Putnam starting the NPC, and it being a driving force for not only the UK and six rounds in the UK and six rounds in Europe.
One thing is for sure, British motocross is a lot like the political landscape. There is a lot of talk about requiring people to work together, but it will always be difficult when egos and money get in the way of progress. Hawkstone International and VMXDN Foxhills have shown that if the product is what people want then they will support it, the challenge is to offer that level six times a year, not just the once.
Strap in because we have a lot to look forward to over the next thirty six months.
Love what we do? Please read this article as we try to raise £30,000.
BREAKING NEWS: Nora Pro Championship dates released
Just in. The dates have been selected for the new Nora Pro Championship for 2024. Whilst there are no surprises that there were going to be clashing it still allows riders to race on a Saturday and a Sunday if they want to ride two championships. The good news we hear is the prize fund is substantial and if facts are correct the biggest prize fund in European Motocross. More information will be released this week. PR Below.
We are pleased to announce the dates agreed for the 2024 championship. As you can imagine this was extremely difficult and we had to take some time to deliberate because we didn’t want to clash with the Bridgestone Championship as this will act as the feeder series to the Pro Championship, the Dirtstore British Championship, the Nora British Cup, and some European EMX races. Whilst taking all these into account it didn’t leave many dates available, and unfortunately, there will be clashes with other series including the Fastest 40. However, with the Fastest 40 running their Pro group on a Saturday and the Nora Pro Championship on Sunday only, we hope this helps.
The dates will be as follows:
24th March 2024 – UK
21st April 2024 – UK
12th May 2024 – Europe
28th July 2024 – UK
25th August – Europe
8th September – UK
Tracks will be released over the next two weeks as contracts are completed. The UK tracks have been agreed and as mentioned in a previous release there will be a brand new UK motocross track that no one has used, a great step in the right direction when so many tracks are being closed.
A huge thank you for the support and feedback that we have received already and we are taking that into account. We believe in open communication so we will explain every decision openly to offer clarity.
We are working very hard behind the scenes and are implementing everything to make this championship one of the most professional in Europe. Our only goal is to raise the bar of British motocross.
New website, title sponsor, tracks, European races, partners, features, teams and riders will be released over the coming weeks.
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