We dig into what it takes to promote the National Hare and Hound and West Hare Scramble Series in this interview with NHAA Chairman Meg Argubright.
Dirt Buzz: Meg, we know you have a lot going on in addition to the work you do to promote offroad racing events, so we appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Tell us about your role as the Chairman of the NHHA, what is it that you are tasked with?
Meg Argubright: Oh yeah, chaos is my new normal! But I love it. From 2012–2015 while I was racing full-time, I asked to represent the women and change the things I saw that I didn’t like. Then in 2015, I was elected as Chairman of the NHHA (National Hare and Hound Association).
In the beginning, my role was to grab ahold of all of the moving parts for both the AMA National Hare and Hound and the AMA West Hare Scramble Championships and ensure that we could continue developing both series. At the time, Erek Kudla was still the Director, so I spent a lot of time watching him and learning how he had leveraged both series. Once he took the role as AMA Off-road Racing Manager, we brought in Jacob Michna to take over that role. From there Jacob and I worked together to maintain the status quo, as well as implement positive changes. And likewise with new Director for the West Hare Scrambles; Brian Garrahan. Today, I oversee all of the staff for both the H&H and WHS to ensure we are meeting our expectations and obligations.
I should also note, that my role is not a “paid” position. I volunteer 100% for the NHHA and have a full-time career in addition to my obligations with the series. I simply love it and am dedicated to its improvement.
DB: And of course, there are other roles such as Vice Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Director and more that also play important roles in making these series happen, right?
MA: Definitely! The NHHA is comprised of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary and Liaisons; these people help in the decision making. Likewise, we have a small team of boots on the ground that includes our series Directors, Admin Coordinator/Scoring, and Social Media persons. From an NHHA standpoint, the “series” would not be possible without these people! From an event standpoint, it is the clubs that make the magic happen.
DB: The National Hare and Hound Association (NHHA) is made up of two clubs: Desert MC, and 100s MC. The NHHA group manages the Hare and Hound events, but some may not know that the group also organizes the West Hare Scramble series. How did this come about and what is the reason for also taking on the West Hare Scramble series?
MA: Correct. Once we learned that the West Hare Scramble series was on the table, we saw an opportunity to offer our racers an additional style of racing and maintain the same expectations regarding what the “series” is. Between the West Hare Scramble and the National Hare and Hound, we provide true off-road racing for the Western United States.
DB: The Hare and Hound series has a rich history that began in 1986. The list of names who have won the title is a who’s who of offroad racing legends: Dan Smith, Danny Hamel, Ty Davis, Destry Abbott, and Kurt Caselli to name just a few. Year after year the series continues to draw big names to the desert to compete for the title. Why do you think that is?
MA: A “National Hare & Hound” is the most unique and exhilarating style of racing in the United States, no question about it. There is no other racing series that offers the same adventure or challenge on two-wheels that we do in North America. And likewise, year after year, there are only 4–5 racers who can do what our top riders can. It’s truly remarkable to watch them. The racers you referenced are not only known nationally but worldwide. Why? Because they’ve accomplished something that very few people can, or will ever be able to do in their lifetime.
"One of the cool things about having both series under our umbrella is that the clubs we work with can host one event or the other and alternate over the years. It mixes it up for our racers and brings the same level of event quality." – Meg Argubright
DB: How are things coming together for the 2018 Hare and Hound and West Hare Scramble series? Any major changes or updates to each series?
MA: Things are coming along nicely! We’ve got a lot of new sponsors that are joining the series, and some new locations and clubs for both Hare and Hound and Hare Scramble. One of the cool things about having both series under our umbrella is that the clubs we work with can host one event or the other and alternate over the years. It mixes it up for our racers and brings the same level of event quality. We have some great new sponsors that have come on board like Freeman Performance and Mojo Motorsport for example. Our youth series is shaping up to be even better, and word has it Kendall Norman is making his return to the Pro class!
DB: We noticed the Hare and Hound series visits a few new locations this year including Texas, Wyoming, and Montana. How did these new rounds come about?
MA: Series Director Jacob Michna saw opportunity in making the National series just that...National. Between recommendations and new clubs reaching out, Jacob did some scouting of his own and felt these new locations would be a good fit for the series. This also gives the opportunity for new entrants. While some existing racers are disappointed that the series is reaching a bit further, this further establishes us as a true National series and will benefit our series riders in terms of experience and exposure. We hope this branching out will be great. And if racing has taught me anything, it’s that we can’t be afraid to fail, and we won’t know unless we try.
DB: Both series have made a conscious effort to focus attention on youth and women’s racing. Is this something that you hope results in more young racers and women showing interest in the sport?
MA: Absolutely. The youth are the future of our sport. No question about it. There is a real lack of new entrants coming into the sport of motorcycle racing, and if we don’t make a conscious effort, we will see our part of the sport fade off. And I believe it all starts with the youth.
Improving the ridership of women has been a mission of mine since becoming involved in the NHHA; that’s where I started with the organization as a liaison. What racing a motorcycle has brought to my life is priceless. Hare and Hound/Hare Scramble racing, in particular, teaches you a lot about yourself. It tests your mind and body, your confidence, your ability to overcome what you think is impossible. And for women, I think it’s empowering.
DB: Let’s face it, it has become harder and harder to find places to hold offroad events. In your opinion, what needs to happen for these two series to continue in the future. For example, do you see more events taking place on private land?
MA: It is becoming increasingly difficult. For Hare Scrambles, they (relatively) hardly take up any landscape, especially when it includes a motocross track. They are always easier events to find and replace. For a hare and hound though, that’s where the biggest obstacle lies. Some clubs have great relationships with their local BLM, while it’s a constant struggle for others to find adequate space to host an event that’s nearly 100 miles. Over time we will have to adapt the way a hare and hound works in limited space to still stay true to the format, but we haven’t reached that point quite yet. Racing on private land has its pros and cons, just like public does. You’ll see us racing on private lands this year. Neither is perfect, we just have to take care of any and all land we race on.
DB: Digging into the inner workings of these events, I bet many don’t know the host club/organization collects all entry fees and local sponsorship and not the series itself. In essence, the relationship between the NHHA and each event host club is a symbiotic one: you both help each other reach the end goal, and the series continues. What are some other things that most racers out there may not know that it takes to promote these events?
MA: That’s correct—it’s about continuing the series and helping the club to put on their best possible event. They put in the paperwork with the AMA, then we exchange a club agreement, and the work begins. When we partner with a club, that means their event becomes part of the National/Regional series, and their event typically pays out points for the local organizations if they choose. While it is a National/Regional Championship event, it is still their event. That means they design and mark the entire course, file for permits, handle insurance, arrange local sponsors, receive all entry fees, gate fees, camping fees, etc.
The NHHA’s role is to bring “the show,” consistency, and ensure that AMA rules are followed. We bring our series Director, Sign-up and Scoring staff, the podium, sponsor-branded materials, produce an event video, provide magazine coverage, facilitate consistent scoring, produce social media content, send email blasts, provide customer service before and after event weekend and more. We charge the club a per rider fee, and everything we bring to the event is meant to be covered in that cost. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize this is where the importance of sponsorship dollars comes in.
We have no involvement in the courses, other than our relationship and efforts with the Kurt Caselli Foundation (for hare and hound) to improve safety and consistency for the riders and our series.
"The NHHA’s role is to bring “the show,” consistency, and ensure that AMA rules are followed." – Meg Argubright
DB: What does the future hold for these two series? Where do you see things headed? Electric bikes? Shorter loops on private land?
MA: For hare and hound, I think first and foremost the future is simply to keep the series thriving as it’s intended to be: in the great wide open. That may mean racing on private lands or getting creative with the space we have left to use. I think the second most important element is safety. We and the industry have to step up and make real offroad racing the safest in the sport.
For hare scrambles, the potential is massive. I think Brian Garrahan’s vision is going to reveal itself. He’s a seasoned professional racer and knows what it’s going to take to put the series in the right place.
Regarding electric motorcycles, both of our series are distance and endurance focused. So battery life is my first concern. But I think we will see electric bikes evolve very quickly. The technology is there, the money is not.
DB: Thanks again Meg for answering our questions and educating us on everything the NHHA is doing to promote offroad racing. This sport requires passionate people to make it work, and you guys are doing a great job with these two series. Here is your place to thank those that help make it happen.
MA: Thank you for making the effort to give offroad racing content a home. There are A LOT of people to thank, so here goes… Our advisors: the AMA and NHHA. Our staff Jacob Michna, Brian Garrahan, Carlie McClay, Kaeley Porter, Chris Johnson, Toni Nelson, Desirae Porter, Mark Kariya, Larry Engwall, Taylor Olivas. Our clubs, DMC, Road Runners MC, Lubbock Trail Riders, Sugarloafers, Sage Riders, Montana XC, Silver State Trailblazers, 100’s MC, Polka Dots MC, Off Camber MC, Prospectors MC, Dirt Inc. Redding Dirt Riders, Mt. Baker MC, OHSCS, Nor Cal MC. Our sponsors: KENDA, SRT, FMF, Mojo Motorsport, Performance Diesel, Offroad Support, Beta, KTM, Husqvarna Motorcycles, Motion Pro, Rick’s Custom Shutters, Purvines, 650 Racing, Bell Helmets, PCI Radios, USMCA, Works Connection, Kurt Caselli Foundation, Rosbach Electric, Chidester Transport, IMS, Twin Air, Wiseco, DP Brakes, Bolt, Avik, Racer Decal and Sign Art, and anyone else I missed. And finally, my husband Jacob, he lets me take on the world without question.