Harley-Davidson Invades Austin X Games 2014

June 10, 2014
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Their presence was everywhere, from the top of the vert ramp to banners inside the street course to a sticker on skateboarder Greg Lutzka’s deck. Commercials touted The Motor Company’s new Street 750 while special segments promoting flat track as an official X Games event aired. Harley-Davidson had a high-profile location just inside the Grand Plaza Entrance, Harley hotties surrounded the perimeter while guests like GNC Flat Track champion Brad Baker signed autographs inside. Against the back drop of an ultra-cool big black and orange rig, Harley dangled eye candy like a Sportster Seventy-Two dripping in candy flake paint and customized versions of its new Street 750 to passersby and potential customers.

As the Summer X Games made its first visit to Austin last week, Harley-Davidson cranked up its marketing machine, showcasing its new entry-level 750cc Street cruiser directly to the demographic it targets. A large percentage of X Games viewers are males between the ages of 18-34 with a bit of discretionary income at their disposal. But almost as many young ladies in that same age bracket are also big fans, and female motorcyclists have been the most rapidly growing motorcycle demographic. With its compact rider’s triangle in a motorcycle that handles well, is easy to ride, and has tons of customizing potential, the decision to aggressively advertise at X Games Austin is a no-brainer.

Part of Harleys X Games strategy in Austin was to surround its booth with honeys like this to attract some of those single 18-34 year-old-males that make up its primary demographic.
Part of Harley’s X Games strategy in Austin was to surround its booth with honeys like this to attract some of those single 18-34 year-old-males that make up the X Games primary demographic.

“From the event perspective, it was absolutely solid. X Games fans were excited to see Harley-Davidson there and check out the new Street 750s, including the Street Custom Concepts and flat track prototype bikes,” said Harley Media Relations Manager Jen Hoyer.

The extent of exposure gained at the X Games includes millions of ESPN and ABC TV viewers worldwide in addition to an estimated 160,000 fans streaming through the gates between June 5 – 8. The X Games Facebook page has 4.8 million likes while another 640,000 fans follow it on Twitter. Extreme games also attract a bunch of Type A personalities, the kind that like to ride and buy motorcycles. So Harley wanting to get in on some of that action should come as no surprise.

Also at stake was getting flat track racing accepted as an official event at the X Games. And why not? It’s the one true form of American motorcycle racing, fast-paced, bar-banging action at 140 mph on mile-long dirt tracks. It has a grass-roots, blue-collar following, one Harley has embraced as long as people have been racing motorcycles on oval dirt tracks. The Harley XR750 has been a beast on dirt tracks for a long, long time, and the Street 750 they turned into a street tracker garnered plenty of attention at the Austin X Games. It features highly skilled athletes who live life on the edge of the blue groove, putting all on the line for the sport they passionately support. This past January, GNC champ Baker flew over to Spain and schooled the best motorcycle racer in the world, MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, in the finer points of flat track racing. It’s a perfect candidate for the X Games.

GNC Flat Track champ and Harley-Davidson Screamin Eagle factory rider Brad The Bullet Baker was at Harleys X Games booth signing autographs for fans and promoting #xgamesflattrack as well.
GNC Flat Track champ and Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle factory rider Brad ‘The Bullet’ Baker was at Harley’s X Games booth signing autographs for fans and promoting #xgamesflattrack.
Harley-Davidson had a prime location for its booth inside the Grand Plaza Entrance at the Austin X Games  enticing would-be buyers with eye candy like the Sportster Seventy-Two.
Harley-Davidson had a prime location for its booth inside the Grand Plaza Entrance at the Austin X Games, enticing would-be buyers with eye candy like the Sportster Seventy-Two.
Harley-Davidson banners and signage were everywhere at the 2014 Austin X Games.
Harley-Davidson banners were everywhere at the 2014 Austin X Games.

“Having Flat Track in the @XGames in 2015 would be a dream come true!” wrote Brad “The Bullet” Baker on his Twitter account.

He’s not alone. The hashtag support for #xgamesflattrack is pages long, supported by the likes of Moto2 rider and former AMA Pro Superbike champ Josh Herrin, daredevil Bubba Blackwell, and former MTV Headbangers Ball host Riki Rachtman. During the X Games final broadcast Sunday, one of the announcers said flat track had indeed passed the grade and would be an official event in 2015 just before the segment with Baker, the Mees, and Cory Texter aired. After commercial break, the same announcer came back on air and saved face by saying it might be a medal event next year. Did he inadvertently let the cat out of the bag? We’ll have to wait and see.

When we asked Harley-Davidson how the voting for X Games Flat Track went, Hoyer replied, “As for the voting to make flat track a medal sport, the results remain to be seen. We drew a lot of fan excitement, and we received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media, but it’s ultimately up to ESPN now to decide.”

And just how will ESPN make that decision? Is there a magical number of tweets it was looking for? What other criteria factor in?

We reached out to the head of ESPN X Games Public and Media Relations, Danny Chi, hoping to find answers to those questions and when the decision might be announced, but Chi is a busy man who hasn’t had the time to get back to us yet. He’s probably trying to catch up on rest after getting little sleep last week while the games were going on, but when he does get back to us, we’ll let you know what he said.

Until then, the ball’s in your court ESPN. Harley-Davidson, flat track racing, and the X Games. Feels like a natural fit for all parties involved.

 

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