In the world of supercross, the term "mainstream" is as ever present as "potential" in a preschool.The buzz is constant that this year we're going to make it to the big time, this year we're going to be a household name, this year we'll awake from nap time, shed our Monster Truck blanket and graduate into the minds and homes of every beer-dispensing-helmet-wearing American motorsports fan as well as their accountant neighbors.But when will it actually happen? It's frustrating to hear it every year, and since I'm as sick of NASCAR references as you are of being asked if you can do a backflip, I tend to ignore the marketing greed-machines that pollute the pits. But suddenly my pessimism is waning.Might we not be the paste-eating kid after all? There is hope.By the time you read this you'll have seen a nationwide television commercial featuring the Geico Powersports Honda A-team of Trey Canard (West Coast Lites) and the ever-classic Kevin Windham in super-slow-mo gooey moto goodness. There will be no lizards. There will be no cavemen. There will be no eye-popping stacks of cash. But if the playback feed I saw from the viewing truck is any indication, there will be plenty of real-and I mean real-supecross-style excitement.Geico's Eric Vaden is the man behind the commercial and the one responsible for banking on the Geico Powersports Honda racing team to deliver some returns for the huge insurance company.Canard and Windham also both expressed how jazzed they were for this commercial to be produced and come out. Not in a vain, I-want-to-see-myself-on-TV sort of way, but in a real ambassador-for-the-sport way. "I'm excited to see what this can do for our sport. It's going to be big and it's going to put supercross in front of a lot of people," K-Dub said. "I don't think any company has given our sport a chance like this and I'm happy Geico is finally doing it."Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what we hope will be the best mainstream supercross commercial ever.The first thing I heard when I ejected from my truck onto Rynoland soil was Kevin Windham belly-laughing over the sound of a Honda 450 and the director's directions. "They like it dusty," he chuckled after Canard and he teamed up in delivering the production team an early dust lunch. The fact that they knew, as motocross riders, the pain and agony of dealing with that much roost was apparent in their amusement.
Blacked-out may be a bit Mad Max for the Honda red faithful and the Geico-logo-emblazed sidepanels might take you aback as a No. 14 fan, but the future can be seen clearly in the look and marketability of the "commercial" bikes. In 2009, the outdoor nationals will forgo side number requirements and the marketable real estate will continue to grow as sponsors demand more bang for their buck. Rumor has it as of press time that the Geico team was requesting to run replicas of these bikes under the lights as soon as possible, if it is allowed.Dusk to dawn. Well, almost. Both riders arrived around 6:30 a.m. and were heading off to Anaheim 2 autograph sessions at about 5:00 p.m. Canard blitzed whoops and whipped his CRF250R like a man possessed while still shaking off his Phoenix-induced concussion symptoms. And Windham, well...he just looked radical on the bike like he always does. This time he did it for 101/2 hours.Behind the camera and inside the truck was the playback screen. The slow-motion replays were so cool; I could have had the whip shot loop over for eternity and been completely happy.
Shot number two was whip-city. This super-huge step-up was the location for some of the best side-by-side whips I've ever seen. The good thing about being at a commercial shoot is they have to do a lot of takes. For me, that meant witnessing mad whips over and over and over and over.Loving a good whip is inherent in our sport. Here, Geico Powersports Honda wrench Matt "Scrappy" Taylor holds up the whip scorecard. Windham's van followed the camera crew around loaded with mechanics Scrappy and Mike "Schnikey" Tomlin, Windham's wife and Factory Connection boss Rick "Ziggy" Zielfelder. After each whip, everyone got a score: a guaranteed 8 or 10 since the card was only two-sided.
How much do you love riding? Kevin Windham and Trey Canard love it at least as much. This wasn't for the commercial. It's just two guys looking for fun with motocross bikes and an empty lot.For a supercross fan, it was cool to see how much attention was given to the bikes as well as the riders. The guys behind the camera did a great job paying attention to all aspects of the sport. And it was kept ultra-real. The bikes get hammered in whip-heavy sessions and supercross-whoop shots. But when it came time for their 360-degree close-up spin shots, the commercial crew said, "Hands off!" They wanted them to look used-like a real dirt bike.Eventually, the camera crew and riders covered nearly all of Rynoland's vast acreage. From the early morning roost to the evening supercross track jump shots, they worked hard to get every possible angle framed in the right way. I honestly thought magazine photo shoots were complicated before I witnessed the Geico commercial production. This was organized chaos. Really cool organized chaos.