JP: Off-road Race Coordinator. What that entitles is sharing responsibilities with Ron Heben, who manages the pro riders, while I’m looking after the amateur racers; our customers – people who come by and need our help.You guys have started an amateur program too?
Yeah, our theory on that is there are a lot of contingencies out there from the different companies, but what we really want to get done is—and I feel is important for the riders that buy our bikes—to have some emergency parts, technicians on staff here [at the races] and communication and even technical seminars that will go right to the riders via email. Our role here is to ensure they have a good day. Get to the starting line, ready to go—they invest a lot of time and money to get here, so we want our customers to have a good ride.What does a rider have to do to qualify for this program?
We tried to make it as easy as possible. If the riders come by the hospitality area at our rig, we have a little registration form that takes under two minutes to fill out, so we know whom they are and how to communicate with them. That’s all it takes to join the KTM Off-Road Support Team.Where’s KTM going with this? Is this the future for the company—helping the people who buy the bikes?
We know—Rod Bush, the President [of KTM North America] and the rest of the company management—this is our core market. And if you look around in this series, look at the percentage of KTM people; it’s a big piece. These are what I call “our people.” And we build the bikes and the products for them. We have invested a lot of time, effort and money in the other principles like Supercross and Supermoto and so on. But at our planning meeting for this year, we said let’s get back to our roots—our core market. These people out here [GNCC racers], in my opinion, you can give them $100 or you can help them get off the [starting] line. And I think at some point in time racing motorcycles should be more valuable.
What we really want to do is build a fraternity of “orange bleeders.” We love that term, the guys are proud of their motorcycles. They’re buying them year after year, they get good service out of them and for us to pay them back—if they’re having a jetting problem, want to set their sag or if they are on their own; they can come by here and be part of something—this program.Basically build and even more loyal customer base?
Right, and it’s little bit of giving back. As the season goes on, we have more plans and it can evolve a lot further. We’re planning on having something like “Sponsor Days” where we take our sponsors, whether it’s FMF, Motorex, Aussie Sports or any of the others that support us in our racing efforts and invite them in and let them use our hospitality area and highlight their products, maybe even give a seminar. We might have some fun stuff like drawings for the products. We’re going to do that for our KTM riders and their guests.How did you get involved?
I have a lot of time and experience out doing this (racing) that dates all the way back to the beginning of KTM. We want our team since it is going to be at all the GNCC races to be based out of Ohio [at the KTM North America home office] and we didn’t have anybody in Ohio on the offroad team. So Rod [Bush] asked me if I would do take this job. We built a nice workshop so they could work out of the East Office and a place to park the truck and work on it and do things back east. That’s how I got involved.No doubt having the last name of Penton helps with this?
I don’t know if that is so much a factor. It’s the people you help and talk to everyday that make the difference. I’m comfortable with that—I enjoy it.