Inventor, Entrepreneur: Eric Peronnard
If you are in the off-road motorcycling industry, you probably know, or know of Eric Peronnard. He’s never won an AMA Supercross, he’s not an FIM World Motocross Champion, but he’s done a lot in the sport.
Ever hear of the US Open of Supercross in Las Vegas? Ever hear of MiniMoto Supercross? How about EnduroCross in the USA?
Eric ‘made’ those.
So, we give you a peek ‘behind the scenes’ in the sport of off-road motorcycling, with a bit of info on the life of Eric.
But let’s go back about 50 years … Eric was born in the French Alps. When we asked him exactly when, his reply with a smile was ‘a few years ago‘. He first started motorcycling riding at age 14 – the earliest you could at that time in France.
Eric remembers the first ‘big’ race he went to, as a spectator at the famed Payerne circuit in Switzerland, that was a big part of the World Motocross Championships for so many years. When asked who won that Grand Prix … Eric says Roger De Coster on his factory Suzuki … or maybe it was Heikki Mikkola : )
But Eric had a plan. A plan to come to the USA. And 26 years ago, he did. Why? The “American Dream” of course!
Eric talks about the plan of eventually coming to the USA from an early age, and more:
I only knew two things in my life then, and still do today … that I would be in America and work in the American motorcycle industry, and that I feel very lucky every day.
In 1985, Jim O’Neal was kind enough to hire me as an employee, and I had a great time with him. Then I went to work with Bob Maynard at THOR. Finally, after get acclimated to life here in the USA, I decided to get back into the entrepreneurial life as I was doing when I was in France – when I left France I sold my Suzuki dealership, which was the third largest in the country … and then came to America.
By 1988, I was running my own company here in the USA, with my wife Carol – we organized and produced events world wide!
My first job in the “racing” world was with the Paris Supercross – I became the US agent working together with Paris Supercross Director Xavier Audouard. Then I became involved with the Geneva Supercross, and some Italian Supercrosses. I still work today with the Paris and Geneva Supercross events.
For me, it was like a dream come true. It still is. I was able to work and know (and still do) ALL the top guns of Supercross and Motocross! I can’t name them all … but the generations span from Ricky Johnson to James Stewart! I am so lucky to have been able to engage on such a personal level with all those stars, and which many of them I can call “friend”!
That’s not all Eric was doing. At the same time, he was running a large motorcycle tour company for European riders, in partnership with Yamaha.
And that partnership led the next chapter in the American Dream – he opened a Yamaha motorcycle dealership in Las Vegas, which went on to become one of the biggest Yamaha-only dealerships in Southwest USA.
Eric talks about the motorcycle adventure tour era in his life:
We were so busy in the 90’s … we became producer of multiple adventure trips for the Philip Morris company (Marlboro) and organized a lot of crazy things with them! It was a lot of fun … we just needed to be creative, and bankrolling projects was no object for them!
So, in 1995 thru 1997, Eric was running the tour business, did race productions, and owned a motorcycle dealership. In 1997 his son Alec was born. A joy and life changing experience.
In 1998, the US Open of Supercross at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was ‘born’. An ‘Eric and Carol’ creation.
In 1999, Eric sold his Yamaha dealership to run the US Open and his other business adventures.
In 2000, Eric sold the US Open race to Clear Channel (which is now Feld).
In 2001, Eric become VP of International Business for Clear Channel.
In 2002, Eric and his wife had their second son – Luca.
In 2003, Eric left the corporate career of Clear Channel, and resumed a more “entrepreneurial” life again.
What was next?
In 2004, Co-creating of MiniMoto Supercross and EnduroCross.
In 2005, Eric worked full time at MiniMoto SX and EnduroCross, and also was working on the European races.
In 2006, MiniMoto Supercross and EnduroCross was sold to Source Interlink Media. Eric becomes VP of Motor Sports events for Source Interlink.
In 2007, Eric ran MMSX, EnduroCross, and other races worldwide. He also started something new – consulting with ESPN on the X Games.
In 2008, he opened a Victory / Polaris / KTM dealership in Florida (where he lives) while still doing the same jobs as the year before.
In 2009, a fantastic temporary life change. Eric took a ‘leave of absence’. He traveled the world, literally, for 12 months with his family. They visited over 35 countries! In Eric’s own words, “by far the most educating part of my life“. http://peronnardfamilyworld.blogspot.com/ At that same time, Mike Karsting and Lance Bryson with Source Interlink were doing a great job managing MiniMoto Supercross and EnduroCross.
Last year, Eric returned home, and resumed work with MMSX and Endurocross. And ESPN’s X Games as a consultant. And keeping an eye on the Florida dealership. (fortunately with a great operating partner) And helped the MX of Nations to come back to America! (Lakewood, Colorado)
And now we have 2011. What is the plan for Eric? First order of business – MiniMoto Supercross, and the EnduroCross Series.
click on image above to learn more about MMSX!
Eric reflects on what he has accomplished to date:
Was I thinking much? I don’t know (laughs), but I have good common sense, and every thing we’ve always done was clean and honest. Everything we ever done, we did with great passion … and happened to be successful too.
MiniMotoSX was easy, my then partner (Tim Clark) had a pit bike magazine and that segment was on fire! I used my knowledge and connections in Las Vegas and, voila – we had a success!
On other hand, EnduroCross was a complete different animal. I knew it had legs and properly managed it would do very well … and it did! The reasoning behind EnduroCross was to create a motor sport where we can have plenty of action without pushing up the speeds, since speed can be the enemy! Easier said than done, but I love the concept of EnduroCross, and keep trying to make it safer and even more spectacular!
It seems to be a winning combination, and we could have great news coming up this summer …
The future …
I would like to help the sport be a better place – mostly with less injuries and less noise. And I am talking about all off road motor sports. Noise is killing our sport, we HAVE to do something …
We will still have an Electric bike race at MiniMoto SX, and don’t forget we opened the doors to EV four years ago. MiniMoto SX was the first to do it in the USA.
I really would like to encourage everybody to ride MiniMoto SX, just come for fun, bring your family and friends and experience the biggest (entry wise) indoor race in the world!
Eric Peronnard and his consulting firm are currently working with: Source Interlink media (MinimotoSX and Endurocross), Lariviere Organisation (Paris Supercross), DPO Organisation (Geneva Supercross), ESPN (Summer X Games) and Youthstream (Motocross MXGP and MXoN).
Eric ends by saying I still love riding and loading my bike to go to the track is still a magical moment. I have a KTM 350 SX, a Kawasaki Pro Circuit 250 (thanks Mitch), an Aprilia 450 MXV (bella machina) and couple pit bikes and trial bikes. I try to be on two wheels every day I can, mountain bike, scooter or MX bikes … love it love it love it.
I am a very lucky man with a great family and a lot of friends! I would not change or trade my half century for anything or any other life.
I do believe in doing more than you say and not the other way around. I am quite private and very few people know what I am up to, but trust me – there are many projects in my mind!
What will 2012 bring for Eric, a motor sports inventor & entrepreneur?
Eric with wife Carol
Supercross.com’s little video of Mini Moto Supercross 2010 in Las Vegas