100% equals everything!
When you give everything, you do not save anything for later, do not relax, do not take a break to catch your breath, give everything you've got from start until finish! You leave it all on the track.
In the early 80's, at the SX and Nationals, this noticeable 100% logo started to appear out of nowhere on factory bikes, riders' jerseys and chest protectors.
Not just any rider.... we're talking Bob Hannah, Ricky Johnson, Johnny O'Mara, David Bailey, Jeff Ward...the cream of the crop.
It is very rare that a logo or saying comes along so strong that Hall of Fame athletes choose to run it without any agents or contracts or business discussed.
Some ran this logo their whole career.
David Bailey still ran it when he competed in the IronMan triathlon. Ricky Johnson today wins Off-road truck championships the only way he knows, by giving it all. Johnny O', Bob Hannah and others to this day still position that logo all over their life just to make sure it intercepts them on a daily basis and reminds them of the original tag line, “How much effort do you give?”.
Whether it’s a championship on the line, 40 more miles of cycling through the lava fields before the marathon starts or everyday life, if you aren’t giving it 100% you will regret it.
An interview with the founder of 100%, Drew Lien.
By Tommy Gomez
TG: How did 100% get started?
DL: I was on my own kind of young, so I had to quit racing. But I had to be around it, so I took up the wrench. I was a local race mechanic for a couple of good guys. The last guy I worked with was Jim Holley, and he won the Golden State Series with his Dad and me as mechanics, which was a huge series to win at the time. Then they went on to ride the nationals as Privateers. Well, I had to stay home and earn a living. I had made this "thingy" for the cables that I had seen on the works bikes, and had put it on Jim's bike during the golden States. It was a stiff, white plastic tube that went over the front brake cable, to keep it from getting tangled between the front tire and fender. And everyone wanted one! So, while them guys went on the Nationals, my friend Chuck Carter and I developed what became the "Cable-Erecter".
TG: And you began selling them?
DL: Well, it all just kind of happened. It was all for fun, really. I had a product, but didn't have a name. Everything back then was alphabetical; DG, FMF, CMC, HRP, and so on. So I thought that "DRP" (Drew's Racing Products) would be an awesome name!
DL: My buddy Chuck told me not to name it that. So I went home, and I was sitting on the couch, looking at a poster I had of Bob Hannah, who was number 100 one year. And I thought, "What does it take to win? You've got to give it 100% like Bob does…". And I named her "100%" on the spot. And what's funny is, everyone, and I mean everyone, told me not to name her that! And the truth is, that name is what has sustained her popularity today. She just seems to mean something to people.
TG: So you were off and running?
Yeah, I started 100% with $100. I had about $200 to my name at the time.
TG: Wow. Then how did you get all of these famous riders to use 100%?
DL: I called Rick Johnson. And that's all it took, really.
He had just won top Privateer and Rookie Of The Year in the 125cc class, and had moved up to ride the 250cc's, as a "B" Team supported rider. Stock bikes, a box van, and a mechanic. I knew him, and Johnny O'Mara from being a local race mechanic. SoCal was huge for motocross. In the summer, you could race on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, Saddleback Saturday's and anywhere else on Sunday. So that's how I met all them guys, before they ever raced a National.
Hangtown was the first National of the year at the time, and I called Rick and said, "I just started this company, 100%, and I want to sponsor you! But I don't have any money and can't pay you". And he said, "Sounds like a plan, we'll be Team Budget Racing!", and he went to Hangtown as just a B-Team Rider and won both motos! And he continued winning all year long. He loved the 100% logo, and put her everywhere; his helmet, his chest protector, his bike! And then he went around and put them on the top factory bikes! And that's how the world found out about 100%.
TG: You mean, he would put them on factory rider's bikes without asking them?
DL: Oh yeah, and they would ask, "What's 100%?", and he'd say back, "Don't worry about it. 100% is cool", and so they'd keep it on!
Meanwhile, I was working at Rocketdyne at an entry level job. I'd go home at lunch and ship orders by placing them on the side of my little house I rented. UPS was cool with that, and came and picked up every day.
The next year is when Johnny O came on board. I had made a product called the Moto-Tile. It stopped the pipes from melting the plastic sidepanels. I had tested it over and over again on my stove!
I knew Johnny better than I knew Rick, but I never asked him to be a 100% rider because he was a factory rider, and… there was just this respect thing. Well, Johnny and I shared a buddy named Vern Alary, who worked at Rocketdyne with me. We'd run into each other in the hallway, and he'd ask me about 100% and talk moto. I didn't know he was telling Johnny all of this. So one day, Vern asks me, "What do you do for Rick to run your sticker?". I was embarrassed, but I told him I couldn't pay Rick anything. So Vern goes, "That's what Johnny and me thought. Johnny wants to help you out, so get him some Moto-Tiles and stickers. He's burning his legs on that 125cc that Jim (Felt) made from a 250cc chassis. You know where Johnny's new house is, don't you?".
And I was just floored.
I could remember racing, and training, and praying at night that I "wanted to be in Motocross". Well the Good Lord was sure making it happen! Johnny won the 125cc National Championship that year using 100%.
David Bailey was next. He was Supercross Champ, 250cc Champ and Grand National Champ. He had that cool Wrangler numberplate, with the blue backgrounds and yellow number. I wasn't there, but he was staying with Johnny during the winter, training. And he told Johnny, "Say, I want one of them 100% stickers too!". So Johnny told him the whole deal, but David didn't care.
I didn't know this had happened. I took my parents to their first and only race at Anaheim. They think that Motocross is Hell's Angels to this day! Anyway, they had never seen me ride or race, and I dragged them to Anaheim. During practice, I was telling them all about Rick and Johnny, when my buddy Chris Morton goes, "Hey Dew, Bailey has a 100% sticker on his JT chest protector!". So we argued, because of course, I didn't believe him. He gives me the binoculars, and I see it clear as a bell. And I remember saying to my parents, "Well…. that guy with the #1? He's the series Champion…. and…. I guess he's a 100% rider too.".
And it's so funnybecause, my parents just didn't understand or appreciate that. They thought that they were all a bunch of drunk Hell's Angels, looking to take home the trophy girl.
TG: So you had Rick Johnson, Johnny O'Mara and David Bailey?
DL: Yeah, and it was unbelievable. With them three guys, top rider's just started approaching me for stickers. That's all they wanted. My dear friend Jerry Ireland, AKA "Hoss", volunteered to be my Race Rep! He was also Jim Holley's mechanic. He and I shared a lot of funny stories about being Holley's mechanic! So Hoss would call from the road, and I'd ship him products to his hotel. And plenty of stickers. I wasn't on the road because I had to work my job and run 100%, but man, when Cycle News came to my door, I just couldn't believe what was happening, and how great a job Hoss was doing.
What happened to me with 100% may never happen again. I hope it does for somebody. It's been quite a party.
TG: Man, how did that make you feel?
DL: Actually, it was pretty tough because…. I felt so guilty. There were many times when I would be at the race, or drive home from a race, and stop, and be sick. I just felt so guilty because I couldn't do anything for them guys. I didn't even know most of them. It was a strange, strange deal. I'd go buy a magazine, and Rick or Johnny would be on the cover, sporting 100% on their jerseys!
I hung out with Rick all the time and Johnny as well. Them guys always made me feel like we were just friends, and not to worry about it. Rick Johnson, Johnny O'Mara and David Bailey… Three of the kindest people in the world, and we are still close friends today. I'm always in debt to them.
Years later, we were able to sponsor the man that inspired it all, Bob Hannah. And at his last race, he gave me the front numberplate off his bike that sported our numbers. I have it hung in my home office.
TG: Did 100% riders winn any Championships?
DL: 100% Athletes have won every series there is, and more than once. 125cc Nationals, 250cc Nationals, 500 Nationals, 250 Supercross, 125 East and West SX, all the Woman's Nationals with Mercedez and Dee Wood, and the ones I'm proudest of, the Motocross and trophee des Nations. That was always the best ones, the most special ones. See, my Daddy flew 50 missions over Italy and Germany in WWII. And 100% Athlete's competed in, and won in those countries, and many others, through the MXdN.
TG: So 100% was growing?
DL: YEs, but ever so slow. I was getting orders that I just couldn't fill. I didn't know anything about business, and I didn't know anyone whom I could ask to borrow money from. So, it was growing and making money, but I didn't take any of it because I was putting every penny back in. I quickly learned what "supply and demand" meant. Before, they were just words.
Rick was on me about making T-Shirts. "That logo is so cool, you've got to make some cool tee's and sweatshirts!". But I couldn't afford it! He hammered me hammered me. He was calling each and every week. So finally, I designed one on paper, took it to an artist and had some made, just to surprise him. And it was just in time too. I was so "green" on how to do things, that I would wear PK Racing?Hacienda Honda t-shirt when I went calling on Dealers! I mean, how stupid is that? But I only owned about three t-shirts. Well, I then went to Dealer's wearing the 100% tee's that Rick made me make, and the Parts Manager's were like, "give us some!". I was really green, so I just gave them to them. This was bad because, I really couldn't afford to.
Then one day, this Dealer goes, "Hey, we need three of them 100% tee's". So, frustrated, I told him they were $7.00 each, just to get him to quit asking. And he goes, "No problem! Give me 4 small, 10 medium, 10 large and 8 extra large." I nearly fainted.
TG: And bang! you were in the clothing business?
DL: Just like that. So now, I bought a machine, tee's and heat transfers, and was making them myself! Mind you, I worked all day at Rocketdyne, came home, and would work until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, every night, building products. No employees. Many people start businesses out of garages, but I din't have a garage! It was just this small place, with holes in the walls! I could see outdoors through some of the corners from inside the house. Also, I lived in a really bad part of town, where the gangs were. And now and again, they would be outside, doing a "jump-in", or drinking and doing whatever. So when they were rooting around outside, I'd shut the lights off, and wait until they left. It was tough sometimes because, I didn't have air conditioning, and in the summer, that t-shirt machine was hot, and my little place was full of steam from pressing the tee's, and I'd close the doors and windows when they were out there, and just bake!
TG: So what was your line at that time?
DL: Cable-Erecter, Moto-Tile, Clear Force-Field for the tanks, and four or five tee's and sweatshirts. And the clothing was out-selling them other products by a long way. But the clear stuff was very profitable. It's what made the company grow. Also, folks were calling, and asking for 100%. They would say, "I need some 100% for my tank". I din't get it, until my friend Jim Hale, who owned AXO at the time gave me a book to read about "positioning". And I learned that brand names become product names. Like, you clean your ears with a Q-Tip, but it's actually a cotton swab, or you put a Band-Aid on a cut, but it's actually a bandage.
So I realized that this is what folks were doing. The thick, clear material in their minds was called "100%". It was the same as calling a tissue a "Kleenex".
At the same time, Damon Bradshaw's mom, Marsha, was always calling for our thick numberplate backgrounds, so she could cut out these square looking numbers for Damon's 80cc's. She said they lasted and lasted. And the Bradshaw's are the reason why I began making the thick numbers, which didn't exist at the time. I figured that folks could relate the "100%" to the numbers.
It was a tough decision, because the clothes were flying off the shelves, and I really, really loved making the clothes. But it became so labor intensive that I couldn't figure out how to make it profitable. We were shipping thousands of tee's, but making little money doing it. I just didn't know enough about business to find a less expensive source.
TG: So 100% had the first thick numbers?
DL: Yeah, and I'm real proud of that. I'm proud that I "invented" some things. A bunch of my products didn't exist until 100% came along.
TG: You mean that the major Japanese manufacturer's copied you?
DL: Hey they all copied me! But I'm right flattered by it. I was learning a lot, and I learned that a product has a life cycle. Soon, all these "thick numbers" company's started popping up everywhere. Today, they're all thick numbers.
TG: So is that what lead to making graphics?
DL: Yes, well… I was kind of forced in to it. I never wanted to do that. I wanted to make clothing! Tee's and shirts and such. I'd go to the mall and dream of seeing 100% there. But the thick number copy-cats were making graphics. I just never understood that, even when I was doing it. Making a product bearing another brand's name? You're making a product that says "Honda" or "Yamaha". But it's 100%? It never made sense to me and I never liked it.
TG: But you made them?
DL: Yes, the market kind of forced me to make' em. So i did it right. I went to Honda, and actually asked for permission to make products bearing their name. And this is what lead to sponsoring their team all them years. It was a lot of fun, and truly an honor. We worked with Jeff Stanton, Steve Lamson, and a kid that I originally couldn't afford to sponsor when he was a local racer, named Jeremy. Jeremy McGrath.
TG: Wait - before you talk about the Honda years, what do you mean you couldn't afford Jeremy when he was just coming up?
DL: Well, my buddy Martin Klossner, who was my roommate for years, was a local Pro racer. And he would come home nearly every weekend and say, "You've gotta sponsor this McGrath guy". And I'd go, "Who?". And he'd go, "McGrath". And… you know, I just couldn't. At the time, we had everyone. All the top Pro's - And I mean ALL the top Pro's. We had all the local Pro's as well. We were giving away so much product, that we just couldn't do it anymore. The orders were coming in, and we couldn't fill them. And we were constantly taking inventory that we could have sold, and sending it to athletes we supported.
TG: Even with the copy-cats on the market?
DL: Yes, even then, because folks just liked ours. I thank God for it, but I was actually telling many of them to call the copy-cat company's, because we just couldn't handle it.
So anyway, when we signed on to be Team Honda's official sponsor, I had a clear conscience in making graphics, because we had their permission. I've always had a great relationship with all of the manufacturer's, and I din't think it was right to "steal" their names. Those were great times, and a lot of fun. Four of Jeremy's many Championships were won using 100% racing products. Both on Honda and Yamaha. And I'm awful proud of that.
TG: How many Supercross Championships have 100% riders won over the years?
DL: Seven. And when I got out of the graphics business, my nearest competitor had won just one with a rider. But seven is a cool number, because one of my hero's, Dale Earnhardt won seven. And Jeremy won seven too.
TG: And now the heritage continues with clothing?
DL: Yes, we're on to the next thing, which is clothes. And my heart has always been in clothing. I just have a bunch of crazy ideas for clothes, and I'm gonna make some special clothes for racing fans, because racing fans are special people.
No fan is like a race fan. Football fans, lousy Baseball fans, none of them are like racing fans. And I'm making clothing for us racing fans, because I'm one of them.
An enthusiast that wears 100% clothing, knows that it is something original. It's something that is fun, because we race fans love life, and live it to the fullest. And we all have a great sense of humor, and I think that we race enthusiast's want to wear something more than just some company's logo on our chests. And that's what 100% is all about, and it's something that the copy-cats won't be able to copy. It's original.
You know, when I go to a Pro Race, I'm the biggest fan there. I mean, I can hob-knob with all the top guys in the pits, but I don't because I've come to see the race. See the bikes up close and then see a good race! So you'll usually find me walking around the track, watching the race with the fans. That's where I belong, because I'm a 100% racing fan!
TG: Hey, sounds like a new shirt idea!
DL: I'll have to write that one down. But probably, some company will read this and copy it!
TG: Okay, Drew. This has run waaay longer than we planned, and you promised me dinner. Any last words?
DL: Just a big, big thanks you to anyone who ever saw that 100% logo, and "got" what it is all about. That's all I ever wanted.