Racing; be it on two wheels or even four wheels, is a glamorous event where cool looking racing teams and athletes gets to compete against each other in search of supremacy on the racing ground. It can be on tarmac, muddy soils, snow and any possible terrain imaginable. But what about racing that people love so much that they are willing to spend more than what they are ultimately going to gain. We believe, it is part of our human emotion that pushes us to do things that we are not going to do if we’re thinking about it logically. The sense of belonging to a community, and to shine in the group of extremely brave people who are willing to risk their life for the glory of a race win.
But the truth is much more saddening than the story and how it seems. Malaysian Riders organization spent four short years; enough to see how the growth is nowhere near as healthy. Why is this happening? It led us to write this article to discuss on why we haven’t seen a healthy growth in the support. Motorsports or specifically in this writings; motorcycle racing, has been around in Malaysia for more than 30 years. We’ve had the international circuit of Sepang for more than 10 years and we’ve also had a few international level riders spanning more than 20 years representing the nation. But what about our local scene?
As mentioned earlier, we have had nearly 5 years of experience in witnessing the progress of our local motorsports scene. Unfortunately, we do not see an increase of supports coming from the masses of passionate motorist that supposedly in a logical way; would be the numbers that turn out for each motorcycle racing events. We are talking about the likes of Malaysian Cubprix, Malaysian Superbike Championship and the national series of motocross championship. Out of the three, only Malaysian Cubprix has the biggest share of public interest due to it’s massive scale of marketing and exposure coming from the sum of money they’ve earned from the commercial sponsors.
Understandably, not everyone is going to support everything and we don’t expect them to do so. But what is much more important is, where does the small percentage even goes to when it comes to attending a racing event? National premier level of racing; Cubprix has the majority of the attention but even that does not attract a five digits attendees across the race weekend all the time. How can we say that? We were there and to put it loosely it’s not as many as you would think it will be. As for Malaysia Superbike Championship or previously known as Malaysian Super Series; it is much worse than even a school sports day. Now how can these two series be in such state even after the tons of organic and paid promotion has been made by either the organizers or even the participants?
Putting aside Malaysian Cubprix, the other local racing series has been so passive in terms of how they reach out to the public. Of course, it cost a lot for the organizers to get the television to broadcast or even highlight some of the stories; considering some of these media broadcasters and organizations are doing “business” more, rather than covering important stories in local sports. So, hoping for these small national racing series to be featured in television is out of the question unless you have the financial capacity to do it. But there are other motoring related events out there that have been successful in gathering up more than 15,000 enthusiasts to attend their ground; and they don’t even get televised. So how do they do it?
Now which direction do we go in terms of identifying the problem? At this moment, Malaysian Riders personnel has been working closely with a few teams and individuals in a local motorcycle racing scene to actually cultivate a positive motorsports culture. One thing that we’ve found through our work is that people are not driven to support others even in the same interest that they share. This is just sad, it actually says that Malaysian are not totally supportive of their own products. Anyone to blame? Not really. What we can say is that, people in Malaysia has been too comfortable in being enticed or be given an incentives to come and support a cause. We have been neglecting the importance of educating and cultivating the passion from its core.
Motorsports fans in Malaysia itself felt reluctant to come and attend the multiple races that are being held all over Malaysia throughout the year. This is an unhealthy attitude that needs to be eradicated and left behind by those who are directly involved with the racing event itself; such as the racers, the teams, the organizers and even the sponsors. We are not like those who are in Japan, Europe and America; they are different breed of people who are just passionate enough to support their own products. Now what these individuals and organizations need to do now is create their own group of passionate people who can be of a support and evangelized the activity on and off the circuit.
We can’t change people, but we can help move them into joining our cause not with incentives but with shared passion and beliefs that we are doing it for something bigger. We understand that is asking a lot. But the results will be significant in the years to come. It will take some time for this to turn into results, but it will be worth the time spent. We have seen a lot of broken down initiatives from the government, corporate organizations and even some individuals which pour millions and millions of ringgit with hope that they can entice a lot of people to join the community. But it never succeeded or outlasted the funds that they already invested in. The reality is very sad and it has to change now.
The truth is, not everyone needs to be racing; but that does not mean we can’t continue to pursue our interest in the motorsports scene. The realm of racing is not just about glamorous and popularity or about winning, it’s about challenging ourselves to overcome problems, it’s about gaining knowledge to be shared and used for the greater goods, and it’s about enriching the already diversified business ecosystem. It can be a lot of things other than just racing, it can be a place to cultivate positive values; and that is just limitless if we have the right culture of motorsports and the right kind of support. Not everyone can race but everyone sure do can come and support the races. We just need to be there first and witness the possibilities.