Chris Bach marches to the beat of his own drum. This is a good thing. He speaks his mind and we respect him for that. In a sport that places high value on toeing the line, Chris does so in his own way; he’s a straight shooter and tells it how it is—something that’s refreshing in a time when “NASCAR-speak” has become more prevalent in motorcycle racing. Despite his outspokenness, he also has immense respect for his sport (and its often unwritten rules) as well as an appreciation of history and culture. This was apparent in his recent trip to Japan for the final round of JNCC Series (Japans’s version of the GNCC series), where instead of staying in an americanized setting, he eschewed the easy path and immersed himself in the culture and food of Japan. Now, Chris Bach has once again decided to forge his own path by taking a chance on something outside the norm of the offroad motorcycle community. Read on to find out what Chris Bach has in store for 2016 and beyond.
Chris, so we understand you have a new venture that you’ve started. How about a little background as to how you came up with your idea.
It’s a little bit of a tough question to answer without being too negative on a few topics. Over the course of my career I have seen a lot of changes take place as a new generation of athletes come up through the ranks. There are a staggering amount of athletes and young adults who want the glory and the accolades but aren't willing to put in the real work behind the scenes. You ask this crop of talent some basic questions about their futures and you’re met with answers of "I don't know" with no definitive plans, ideas, goals—anything. This is a pretty common theme actually, with everyone having this sense of entitlement now. It’s very frustrating to me, almost pushing me to the point of anger over the topic. Over the course of my career, like most athletes, I have had to overcome obstacles and other challenges; however, I was able to succeed in really low times by thinking outside the box, having great mentors in my life, and having the audacity to seek, find, or create answers and solutions for myself. I know there are still kids and young adults out there who have those same values, and in a world where these values are becoming more and more scarce by the day, I feel it is important to keep those individuals inspired, motivated, and reward them for their efforts. That’s why “Be the Difference” (BTD) was created: to be the mentors, to be the ones asking the right questions, and to be the ones leading by example.
We can tell from your initial few posts on Facebook that you are passionate about this new endeavor. You seem to want to challenge young men and women out there to “lead by example,” to dare them to be different. Would you say this is a big part of your strategy? To motivate people to become role models?
Absolutely. It’s so easy to tell someone to do something, or throw some money at something and forget about it. It’s a real challenge to physically take the action to do something and to make a difference. From within the action of those involved is where the validity of this program will come from. Most people are all talk. They want to do something, they want to make a difference either in someone else's life, or change the status of their own life, but that first step is always so daunting. I feel like the BTD Project can be the conductor that helps facilitate those initial actions. By leading from the top, I am confident our actions will be seen, be heard, and eventually trickle down to a point where we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt we have had a positive impact on our community, racing and beyond.
Is the Be the Difference project aimed only at the offroad motorcycle racing community, or do you have a higher, more far-reaching goal outside of motorcycle racing community?
Initially we will start in the offroad community, because its what we know best and it is the offroad community that has provided this great life I live and the ability to even start this program. With that said, racing is only a small part of our long term goal. Our goal for 2016 is to reach 3,000 young adults and inspire them to get outside of that box and start solving problems and giving back.
So it sounds like you will be out in the field to raise awareness through various community events, school visits, activities, and much more. How many events and in what part of the country will be out and about to begin with? Will you also be doing so at select offroad events?
It is going to be a full year without a doubt. We will start with the east coast since that is the home of GNCC Racing, but will expand into the midwest as the year progresses. We have plans to bring in some west coast resources and expand our reach, but that is a ways down the road from where we are right now.
Is this 100% a solo Chris Bach Racing project? Or will you have the support of your team sponsor, and mentor, Johnny Campbell? Will he be involved with your awareness campaign on the west coast?
BTD Project is a project created and being put in action by myself and my girlfriend, Danielle, as an effort for us to give back and get people involved in something that is much bigger than just our lives or the racing community. My ongoing relationship with JCR Honda and all of our team sponsors is something I am very proud of, and they are all an extension of myself, as I am an extension of them. It’s safe to say that everyone will be represented and involved with BTD in some way, but at what specific level is yet to be determined.
You mention that you will be selecting individuals who are braving the challenges and overcoming diversity to reach their goals and rewarding them with academic scholarships, exclusive sports camps, and more. Tell us about this.
As I said earlier, our goal is to inspire individuals to be different; think outside the box and find unique ways to solve problems, whatever that problem may be. However our name is Be the Difference ... and a big part of this project is revolving around giving back and paying it forward. For those who accept our challenge there will be a slew of rewards coming their way, most of which will be given to individuals on a nomination basis; meaning someone must nominate you for your actions. Those who are overachieving and find ways to take what they've learned and give back to others will be heavily favored for these rewards. Now, this isn't restricted to just racers who are have shown outstanding sportsmanship; this can be for little Sally Sue who has figured out a way to solve a conflict in her classroom by getting two opposing sides to communicate and work together for the betterment of her class. Her goals may not be sports or racing and she may have huge, expensive college aspirations, to which we would start (or contribute if she already has one started) a college trust fund that will assist in reaching those goals. If it’s a racer and they need some parts, or they could use some one-on-one training with one of the XC1 racers, or they just need some guidance and mentoring, we will make it happen for them, and we will foot the bill for it as long as they are continuing their pledge to “Be The Difference.”
Besides tagging you in social media or using the hashtag #BeTheDifference, you are also encouraging people to reach out to you, to tell you their stories. How can someone contact you to share his/her story?
The website is currently being built as we speak, and should be live within 7-10 days. The site will be www.BTDproject.com, and there will be a place where you can reach out to us and share your story, or someone else's, or find out how to get involved if you are someone who would like to contribute to this project. I am proud to say they we have already secured the pledge of a majority of the current XC1 Pros in GNCC on both the bike and quad side of things, and when the site goes live we will be doing some awesome interactive things with these guys. Like I said, leading from the top by example. In the meantime, if anyone has stories, wants more info, or wants to get involved, they can reach out to me at BeTheDifferenceProject@yahoo.com until the site is live, or via Facebook.com/bethedifferenceproject.
Chris, thank you for talking about this exciting idea with us. This is an admirable project and we wish you nothing but success. We hope to check back in with you in a few months and see how things are going. Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you get this off and rolling?
Thanks. I look forward to sharing our success and the success stories of others via our program in the future. I’d like to thank my girlfriend, Danielle, for taking on this project with me. Also, I'd like to thank all of the athletes, riders, and other supporters that have jumped on early in this project to raise money and support for what we are doing. I think everyone is going to be quite surprised at our list of supporters when the site goes live and I am excited to see where we can take this project as a community.
Hear even more about Be the Difference in this Seat Time Live Interview.