JANUARY 28, 2017 3:00PM
We’ve seen how difficult it can be for riders to organize their own programs and make it to the races, even if you’ve had good results in the past. Heck, just look at Malcolm Stewart, who missed the first two rounds of supercross trying to complete his race team. But quietly in the background, Ronnie Stewart has been managing his own race team with 20 different sponsors for five years, all without a podium or even top-10 results everyone thinks are necessary to succeed. Now, with the help of his wife Brooke, they are looking to turn the Microbilt PRBC Yoshimura Suzuki team into something that will last long after Ronnie has retired.
We sat down with the team owner/rider to talk about how he keeps his team on the road, find out what exactly Microbilt is, and discuss how much the results really matter.
Racer X: Congrats on making your first main event of the year. How’d your weekend go?
Ronnie Stewart: My weekend went awesome! We were able make the main event and finish in 20th place. It was great just to get to the main, ride the 20 minutes, and be in the environment with the best guys and being in that mix. I ended up going down a couple laps into the race and that kind of put me a little bit behind and I lost touch of the pack. Because I lost track of the pack and there was no reason for me to be even close to holding up the leader, I was trying to get out of the way and they just kept coming. So that was a little bit of a challenge, but overall it was a successful weekend for us. We were successful in the pits with our fan activation with Suzuki and Ecstar Geniune Oil. We had clients there from Microbilt, so we did a good job in the pits. It was a good event.
So you’re the team owner as well as the team’s only rider. Are you also the team manager?
I’m the team owner, my wife manages the effort along with … we have a few in-house people at Microbilt that help with operations. But we don't get too caught up in titles, we all wear many hats and it takes everyone’s commitment and cooperation to make the team function.
How tough is it to own a small team and ride at the same time?
There’s times when it can be a challenge. Realistically, if it was all about riding a dirt bike, it would not be possible for me to be out there. We’re a business. In my opinion if you’re not focused on your sponsors and how you can provide value for them off the track as well, then you’re not doing it right. So for me I’ve always focused on trying to excel off the track and that’s led to the position that I’m in now.
I would say 75 percent of our time is put in to the team as far as return on investment for sponsors, just making sure that our team is running fluidly and professional and that our image is good at the track. I think that the riders that can just focus 100 percent on riding, there are only a couple guys in our sport. You know, the Roczens and Dungeys, they can get away with not doing well on social media or not going to all the dealer signings or not doing certain things, just because they can go out and get on the podium and then their sponsors are happy. But everybody else has to have other objectives to give themselves value. For me, it’s what we do with MicroBilt. We provide hospitality and entertainment for their clients which they have in basically every city in the U.S. As well, now we have our fan activation area in the front of the semi where we have a deal with Suzuki and Ecstar Oil. We have two parts in the pits that we focus on during the day...