Having been planned since 2006, and overcoming funding setbacks along the way, the rumored World Moto Clash, we were told yesterday, will indeed take place in 2011.
What is it?
According to Stanford W. Crane, Jr., CEO for NewGuard Entertainment and head of the project, “It is the richest motorcycle race in history. The purse for the event will be $1 million; $300,000 for the winner, and $5000 for the last-place finisher of 30.”
Yes, that’s a $300,000 check for the first-place finisher of a single motorcycle road race – not the culmination of a series – with only a few planned per year, each with the same prize money. Second place will garner $250,000, and third will get $125,000. Win four of them, and you’re a millionaire.
What kind of bikes will teams be riding?
What ever kind they want. Think 300-plus hp, 300-lb large-displacement tuner specials. Or maybe a lighter bike would make a better weapon for a tight track? Think also superchargers, turbochargers, nitrous-oxide injection. If racers want to bring it, no problem. And don’t rule out 2-strokes; maybe lightweight, or as large as 1000cc or larger. Exotic fuels are also allowed.
It’s all about power-to-weight ratio, and building the best no-holds-barred machine for a proposed racetrack.
“You simply show up. There are no equipment rules whatsoever in World Moto Clash,” Crane said, “It’s not like going to an AMA race. It’s not like going to a World Superbike or MotoGP race. It‘s like going to the biggest race you’ve ever been to in your life.”
Crane said it will be a single-class event, with open invitation to all, including the best racers and teams in the world – many of which have already been contacted and said they’d gladly accept. Qualification will involve a five-day session prior to grid selection from what is expected to be far more applicants than will be able to race.
As further indication of what kind of machines might show up, Crane said he inquired of one well-known team owner.
“Will you be getting back-door MotoGP bikes to run in World Moto Clash,” Crane asked this person he described as ‘close to Yamaha.’” The reply was, “No, they won’t be fast enough.”
Official times and places are not set, and won’t be announced until early in 2011, Crane said, adding he wasn’t planning to announce the news at all, but someone – no, not Wikileaks – is already poised to spill the story.
“We've already been accosted by an international website who uncovered some details about one of our media properties relating to [our plans for] cinema,” Crane said without naming names. “I suspect that will hit the web as early as next week.”
So, he agreed to speak to us in advance and does allow for a 10% chance that something might prevent the races this year, but otherwise said he is confident.
Actually, all the way back in March 2009, he had funding in place, he said, but a couple of investors pulled out. Since then, new deals have been put in place, and barring anything like what happened last year reoccurring, it’s a done deal, with only some details remaining.
One likely venue will be Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, but this is not official, and tracks around the world are being considered.
In turn, the races will receive unprecedented media coverage, Crane said, adding, the “top three” networks all expressed interest in the events, and one definitely has the contract.
The action will be videoed in 3D, and there will be “more than double” the usual number of cameras around the track, and on many of the bikes themselves to show racing from every angle.
This will all be part of plans by film directors Tony Scott and his brother Ridley Scott, who along with others will apply their best Hollywood-style abilities toward producing and directing a network reality show based on the footage. The idea is to spoon-feed the up-close gritty battles into the cerebral cortex of anyone who can watch a video presentation.
Tony – who has to his credit such films as Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide, and more recently, The Taking of Pelham 123, will work to choreograph the visual presentation much better than usual motorsports race coverage, Crane said. Included will be educational clips informing spectators about myriad details, technologies, motorcycle builders, and much more.
Anyone who’s ever attended a MotoGP or other premier race live knows the huge disparity between the in-person experience, and what is seen on TV. Usually, telecasts don’t do it justice. Crane said with the aid of top talent, that gap will be markedly reduced to deliver a nearly omniscient, sensory-impacting viewing experience that’s arguably as good as or better than seeing it in person.
“What were doing is we’re going to raise the media bar in racing,” Crane said, “That was our goal from the git-go. We didn’t want to reproduce what MotoGP is doing. They’re doing fine.
“We’re about creating a few super events. And they are going to be covered like super events. I would say like more on the scale of covering the Olympics or something like that,” he boasted, “Or the Super Bowl, Indianapolis 500, or the Kentucky Derby.”
Following televised events, plans are to create 3D reality productions, Crane said, which are intended to command viewership in theaters worldwide, instead of being distributed via pay-per-view.
“We haven't finalized the deal [with an un-named European company] and there are several others in the mix, all with over 2000 3D theaters [in Europe],” Crane said. “In the U.S. we'll have 12,000 3D theaters by the close of 2010.”
“People are going to be sitting with a death grip on their seats hoping they’re not going to crash,” Crane said, “because it will look just like they’re on the bike.”
Why is he doing it? For several reasons, Crane said.
“In our view, the ecosystem in motorsports – not just motorcycle racing, but in motorsports – is broken. It’s broken in NASCAR. It’s certainly broken in Formula One,” Crane said. “I do believe you can create an ecosystem which will allow team owners to make money. It requires a number of different changes to the things that are out there today.”
Concern for riders also come into play, he says.
“They should be able to make a professional living from their sport,” he said, “and it’s very difficult to do that, I think.”
Crane’s bio shows a history of big innovation. As a self-described “technologist,” he founded Crane Electronics in 1984, and he claims to have 100 patents to his name, including products for the Patriot missile, F-15 laser guidance system, and advanced telecom/datacom systems.
In the ’90s he reportedly developed a new electronic interconnect system and licensed it to 3M, LG and Litton. Later he founded The Panda Project, a semiconductor packaging company, which in 1999 was sold to Silicon Bandwidth. In 2006, following what others have said is an equally developed proclivity for arts and entertainment, he and Andrew Kastner formed NewGuard Entertainment Corp. and began attracting top talent to bring the World Moto Clash project to fruition.
Crane has been involved in roadracing for a long time. Carry Andrew, a two-time winner of AMA Tuner of the Year accolades, partnered with Crane to build the Lion Racing team that competed in the AMA Superbike series in 2004-2005. Andrew describes Crane as “a person of substantial opportunity,” adding, “I know he wants to do good by motorcycling.”
As someone used to thinking outside existing confines, and a former racer, Crane says the rules in pro motorcycle racing are simply too cumbersome, and he is often left asking “why?”
Why no superchargers? No turbochargers? Why only certain kinds of fuels and other tight restrictions? Why spec tires? Why spec engines? Why minimum weight limits? And so on.
Rules don’t always equate to cost savings, he said. He estimated a MotoGP machine can cost $3 million, and each rider needs two.
“For $100,000, I can build a bike that’s faster than any MotoGP bike,” Crane claimed.
And in creating an ultimate class, he sees it as an effort at being ultimately more fair.
Under the current way things work, he said, “Ben Spies has to go and race for Tech 3 Yamaha and it’s like Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s bike, but it’s not really Rossi’s and Lorenzo’s bike. If your supplier is your competitor as we have in every series in the world, you’re going to be severely limited.”
While carrying over all the safety rules of any sanctioned event, Crane means to open up the performance rules, and make it more profitable all the way around.
He intends to create more wow factor even for non-motorcycle enthusiasts, he said, and in the process win more people to what he says is the most exciting spectator sport in the world.
The necessary parties, he said, are in place to make it happen.
In addition to NewGuard’s private investors, Crane said, network deals ought to provide ample funding. Average fees paid by Fox, TBS or ESPN for a NASCAR event is $31 million per weekend, he said, and World Moto Clash should command comparable fees.
“And that’s the average licensing fee,” Crane said, “Okay? To add the Formula One race that they’re going to have in Austin, Texas, they’re going to have to pay Formula One $40 million just to have the race. That’s a $70 million weekend. And I would suggest that the drama and the excitement that the Tony Scott overlay and then some of the other media partners that we have – which I don’t want to name but they’re literally the biggest people in the whole industry – are going to put over World Moto Clash. People will sit there and go, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe what I’m seeing.’”
Crane said his goal is not to supplant other top race series, but to complement them.
“These [other] series are all great. And they’ll continue unencumbered by World Moto Clash, and perhaps even increase awareness about their series,” Crane said, “But what World Moto Clash is about is more like what the early days of Indianapolis was about – and that is you build the fastest thing that you can, find somebody with enough courage and skill to ride it, and then show up. It’s sort of like gladiators on motorcycles.”
Except, that is, for the part where dirty tactics could come into play. Crane said certain tracks are already ruled out because they’re not deemed safe enough. And with cameras on every angle, a stern warning will be made to all participants not to play too rough.
“We will catch everything,” Crane said, and the organizers will “tell the people in the riders meeting – no uncertain terms – we will be happy to take that $300,000 check out of your hands if we see on the video that you did something that’s unsportsmanlike or dangerous.”
With an equal smattering of umbrella girls, and every other feast for the senses, Crane said to look forward to a show like nothing else, with only the timing, place, and number of events in question.
“We will have more than one in 2011. More than one,” Crane said. “I will just say more than one. But we will not have very many. If we have like four, that will be the maximum. So when these things happen, they’re the biggest thing on the planet that weekend.”