Going for homerun in motocross market

DeMarini Sports CEO Ray DeMarini recently announced that his company is rejoining the motocross market. The company is best known for manufacturing quality sports equipment such as softball bats. The company’s entry into the motocross circuit started when it offered motorbike racer Jason McCormick a sponsorship in the 250 cc category in 1997. For the 1998 season, McCormick is riding a motorbike built by Honda. DeMarini plans to incorporate into the design of motorbike handlebars the technology that made his softball bats a popular choice among sports buffs.

Do you enjoy your job? Want a quick lesson on getting the job of your dreams? It’s easy. Pick your favorite hobby and turn it into a profession. That’s it. Go ahead, pick one. No joke. Just about anyone involved in the motorcycle business is proof it works.

Ray DeMarini, CEO of DeMarini Sports, has been making high-performance bats and sporting equipment since 1990. As a professional softball player, hitting softballs was, still is, Ray’s hobby. By improving upon existing technology, Ray has successfully turned his hobby into a very profitable business. He’s not completely happy, though. Not yet. He has other hobbies. Motocross is one of them.

DeMarini, a professional rider in the ’70s and ’80s, recently made the decision to reenter the world of motocross. It started when DeMarini Sports offered a sponsorship to Jason McCormick, who was the top-ranked privateer in the 250cc class, finishing in 13th place for 1997.

For the past few years, Jason was riding a stock bike against top-of-the-line factory bikes. He was driving his own truck to the races while his competitors were traveling by first-class air,” says DeMarini. “You are talking about an awfully tough sport to try to make it like that.” The fact that DeMarini Sports and Jason, McCormick are both based in the Pacific Northwest probably didn’t hurt, either. “I was completely impressed by his desire and potential.”

Evidently, so was aftermarket pipe giant FMF. Jason was signed to ride the Honda-backed FMF team for the 1998 season. Not far behind was Ray DeMarini. Ray was also impressed with FMF and the attitude they bring to the motocross circuit. Currently, DeMarini Sports is a sponsor of FMF/Honda team and helps to support a total of five riders, including McCormick. It is the possibility of developing product for his team and riders, though, that has Ray the most excited.

A picture of a 1919 Harley in his engineer’s office caught Ray’s attention. He noticed that the bars looked essentially the same as what you would find on a bike today, while almost everything else was different. DeMarini feels it is time to make a change. According to Ray, the technology they used to develop their high-tech bats is well suited for the motocross environment. It has everything to do with controlling vibration.

“The way we did it with the slow pitch bats, which is exactly the way I am going to do it in motocross, is just approach things a little different than everybody else,” says DeMarini. “We invented a bat that was far superior to anything else. We are going to do the same thing in motocross. The expertise we have from manufacturing bats includes controlling vibration. We are trying to figure out ways to diminish this vibration in handlebars, frames and other components because that is what is causing the fatigue in riders.” Look for a full line of DeMarini handlebars to be introduced later this year.

It is Ray’s passion for softball and motocross that drives him to give all he can back to the sports he loves. Although his professional riding days are over, he is content to sit back and enjoy a different kind of ride. The kind of ride you get from realizing you are helping others be the best they can be.

“I just love this stuff,” says DeMarini. “I dream about it.” If dreaming about work produces these kind of results, you can bet that people in both the softball and motocross industries are hoping that Ray DeMarini sleeps well at night.

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