Last season, Forrest was able to attract the attention of Rick Case Honda, the world's largest full-line Honda dealer. The company was looking to boost sales in its motorcycle dealership, and Forrest convinced Mr. Case himself, who owns 13 major car dealerships in Ohio, Georgia and Florida, to take a break from his vacation in Colorado to attend the Thunder Valley National in Lakewood. Mr. Case met with the Butlers and even rode his Honda Gold Wing right up into their pit. Although none of the team's riders cracked the top 20 that July afternoon, Mr. Case, who is also the exclusive Honda dealer sponsor of the Indy Racing League's Andretti Green Racing team, was impressed enough to become an associate sponsor of BBMX in '07. While Forrest has been able to lay the groundwork for financial muscle behind his team, it wasn't all done with guerrilla marketing. Some of it is the result of simply being a nice guy."The Butler brothers are so endearing to the community, so in touch with their core market," Silverman said. "They are approachable, too. A kid could walk up to anyone on that team on any given Seminole Raceway practice day, and they would stop what they're doing and take the time to speak with him. That kind of stoke that kid is getting from the Butlers is worth way more than just looking up at some idol on the big JumboTron who happened to win that given night."With this kind of support in '07, the team was able to hire journeyman Jason Thomas, a friend and former roommate of the brothers while all three were pursuing college degrees in Gainesville, Florida. Thomas, a former Husqvarna factory rider, has been on the AMA circuit for a decade and has been one of the top privateers in both supercross and motocross over the last five years. He brings a history of AMA supercross top-10 finishes to the team as well as good bike-testing knowledge.While living in Gainesville with the brothers, Thomas saw the beginnings of the team he now represents. "They knew where they wanted to be and where they wanted to go, and back then it was just tough to get taken seriously," Thomas said. "They would go to the races and not finish where they wanted, and the companies would just kind of blow them off because they didn't have the results or good parking spots in the pits. Forrest didn't have it handed to him when he turned pro. For every dollar he got from a company, he had to give the company something else. It wasn't because they were paying him to finish fifth in supercross, so he had to figure out a way to make them see he deserved their help. That kind of forced him to find a different angle to justify companies paying him."One of those angles was striking a deal with select hotels at each round of racing in '07. The season started out at the Hilton Anaheim/Orange, a three-race, cross-promotional sponsorship in which the team encouraged racing enthusiasts to stay at the Hilton, which is across the street from Angel Stadium. The team also set up the rig and awning and displayed its bikes and sponsors' products, including free DNA Energy Drink samples. In another unprecedented move for a team like his, Forrest produced a television commercial that focused on the team and bought air-time on all the SPEED Channel telecasts of the AMA supercross events. The first running of the 30-second spot aired live on January 6, 2006."I think his biggest blessing is the gift of marketing," Thomas said. "He's really good at knowing what the sponsors are looking for and how he can help them. I think that's what the sport is lacking-the understanding that sponsors aren't there to just help people out. They're there to sell product, and the teams that market their products the best and get their name out there are going to get helped."Continuing the Dream
BBMX might have been started by Forrest, but the future of the team goes beyond the eldest brother. Younger brothers Karsten, 28, and Brandon, 24, have both taken an interest in the management and operation of what has become a full-time business. Both hold degrees in fitness and wellness from the University of Florida. While Karsten still has aspirations to keep racing professionally, that part of his career, like his older brothers', is difficult to keep up with while trying to help run the team. He separated his shoulder at the Toronto Supercross last December, and he currently works full time helping manage the team but hopes to ride select events this season. Although Karsten's been involved since day one, he's still stunned by the team's success and is enjoying the knowledge he's gained. "I knew the team was growing and there was a possibility for a future, but two or three years ago I didn't think we'd be this big now," he said.While some people find it hard working with family members, the Butler clan has made a living out of it, going back to '21, when Forrest's great grandfather, Raymond W. Butler Sr., joined an insurance agency that is now Butler, Buckley & Deets. While Forrest juggles his duties at the agency with the race team, he can now rely on Karsten: "Karsten has helped so much. He did the leg work for the whole hotel deal, and he's put his riding aside to help the team grow.""In business knowledge, Forrest is a little ahead of me," Karsten admitted. "Every time I think I have something down or know one subject, then I hear him bringing up something else. It's the experience that is great. I'm constantly learning."Forrest Butler is an easy person to talk to and very polite, but he never stops thinking and it seems as if he never relaxes. His work ethic with the team last year strained his health, and he contracted chronic fatigue syndrome and eventually the Epstein-Barr virus. But he doesn't like to use overworking or being busy as an excuse. "My dad always told me that the more you tell people how busy you are, the less they listen," he said. The recent birth of his first child has grounded him a bit and helped put his life's priorities in perspective, but he's still insatiable about the business end of his affairs. "If we ever win a title, we need two," he said. "You can't fall behind. But I also never want to be the guy who becomes so busy he can't remember his friends. That's my biggest fear.