Jeff Crutcher is a man who wears many hats. He is a full-time racer and owner and manager of his own three-rider race team, in addition to running a motocross graphics business and teaching rider technique courses. He's one of the many passionate people in powersports who go above and beyond to help promote the sport of motocross that he's so passionate about. With the Hoosier Tire Arenacross Outlaws Series kicking off recently, we decided to check in with Crutcher to ask about his plans for the season, running his own race team, and some of his and the team's goals for the future.
Crutcher had a vision about a year and a half ago to launch his own Arenacross team. He had begun to realize that racing motorcycles professionally has a shelf life with an expiration date, and the expiration date for his career was quickly approaching. And as the light at the end of the tunnel that was his racing career continued to get closer with each passing year, he recognized that building and managing a race team was what he wanted to do.
Left to right: Dillon Cloyed (#97), Drake Bailey (#15), and Jeff Crutcher (#5). Photo credit: @motovatedmedia
Crutcher admits that as much he loves racing motorcycles, he didn't want to end up a local vet rider riding the plus 30 classes after his pro career ended. He wanted to stay competitive in his own way, which meant a new role as team manager and hiring other riders for his team, something he's excited for in the future as he transitions out of pro racing.
"Thankfully, I've got really good associates and partners that see the vision of where I want to take this team and how I'm trying to change the way that relationships are done within the powersports industry by taking a little bit of emphasis away from just going out and winning," explains Crutcher. "I mean, I love winning. But winning doesn't always pay the bills, and the mantra' win on Sunday, sell on Monday' is kind of archaic considering how fast everything moves these days."
Some of the ways Crutcher approaches his race team that differ from the norm include working with team sponsors to bring added value regardless of race results. He prioritizes team sponsors like EVS by providing a unique and valuable exposure experience through his "party in the pits" set up at each race. He goes above and beyond to deliver content and valuable marketing assets to sponsors promptly, focusing on providing each sponsor with a return on their investment, with the understanding that sponsor/team relationships are not a one-way street.
Photo credit: @midwest_moto_media
Instead, Crutcher focuses on building long-term relationships with team sponsors by finding ways to be an advisor and working hard during the week to keep building and expanding those relationships. And he believes over time, his program will work. "It takes time, you know," continues Crutcher. "Circling back to what I said, we're in the second year, and I have a five-year plan of where I want to see this whole thing, but right now, we're still in the building stages, although we're already a force to be reckoned with."
The team recently headed to Topeka, Kansas, for the Hoosier Arenacross Outlaws Series opening rounds. According to Crutcher, the three-rider Cycle Zone Performance/Red Line Oil/KTM Team had a good opening night. They put all three motorcycles in the main events, with Dillon Cloyed and Drake Bailey in the mix, with Crutcher the team's top finisher in 8th place.
"[Kyle] Peters got me by .056!" recalls Crutcher. "He passed me in the last corner on the last lap of that race, and I would've had 7th, but he edged me out. But it being Kyle Peters, you know, a two-time Supercross podium guy, I'll take that loss from him. Anybody else and I would've been furious, but with him, you know, we're boys (laughs)."
Photo credit: @midwest_moto_media
When asked what his overarching goals are for the season for himself and his race team, Crutcher is quick to point out, "I'm not Kyle Peters, so I'm not winning the Arenacross championship, and I'm not going to get a podium at those races. But I've diversified my team, and I have two riders who ride for me capable of doing that now. Meanwhile, Monday through Friday is where I do my best work, consulting with brand sponsors. I want to continue doing that with all the brands that I work with."
Continues Crutcher, "My MO is, I want to have a long career and not be a star—both on the bike and off. After this last weekend, the number of people that were just absolutely blown away about our pit setup and our presence and all the accouterments that come along with a professional team. And now we're operating this Hoosier Tire Arenacross platform, and my goal is to row the boat with the promoter and continue to help grow that series and make it more prestigious. It will help me, my team, and especially my sponsors."
TEAM CYCLE ZONE/REDLINE OIL/KTM'S EVS CHOICE:
Axis Sport Knee Braces (Dillon Cloyed & Jeff Crutcher)
Axis Pro Knee Brace (Drake Bailey)
Tug Undergear (Jeff Crutcher, Dillon Cloyed & Drake Bailey)
Moto Socks(Jeff Crutcher, Dillon Cloyed & Drake Bailey)
Interview by Dale Spangler.