So what’s wrong with dirty money? Founder Georg Fechter has perfected the art of banking on fuel, fire and adrenaline.
Motors roar, flames blaze, music blasts, whipping up the crowd – and then they come: Shooting out of their stalls like a swarm of wasps, they jump over one another, taking the “Ooos” and “Ahhs” of the audience as encouragement to go for the ever higher jump, propelling their red, orange, green, blue and yellow motocross bikes ever higher over the muddy ground and, not uncommonly, even above their own heads. A night with the Masters of Dirt (M.O.D.) is like living in your very own sequel of Mad Max, just without the guns and of course, no Charlize Theron. The fun, though, is real and feral.
Exactly what Georg Fechter, initiator of the “world’s wildest Freestyle Motocross show,” yearned for after he got his first motocross at the age of ten and chased his mountain bike up and down the hills behind his family’s house in placid Vienna. “I was probably already infected with moto-cross fever when I was four or five years old,” Fechter smiles, recalling his fascination at Austria’s first motocross race, organized by his fath
er in the sturdy Ferry-Dusika-Stadion, a 7,700-seat indoor arena in Vienna’s 2nd district.
This raw enthusiasm for FMX bikes, motocross and mountain biking led his mother to gift him the brand rights and logo of M.O.D. for his 14th birthday. Fechter was also facinated by the 1994 movie Crusty Demons of Dirt about a group of daredevil freestyle motorcyclists from around the world, showing their sportsmanship, bravado on the hot wheels and their personal free-wheeling lifestyle. It was only a small leap to the Masters of Dirt. Since then, it has gone spectacularly upward for Fechter, but also over a couple of high hurdles and deep troughs.
Thunder from Down Under
Indeed, one is hard-pressed to think of a more unlikely place for the birth of a show that breathes adrenaline, noise and turmoil, than serene, well-behaved Austria. Then again, maybe living a well-ordered life is exactly what makes people from all over crave the excitement offered by Masters of Dirt.
“When the freestyle riders are up in the air, jumping 14 meters high and 24 meters across, they transcend their aura of jauntiness and light-heartedness to the audience,” Fechter explains. “You feel it in your heart and you feel it in your gut. And for a couple of hours, you forget not only your worries, “..but also the constant beeping of your smartphone.” One of the reasons to look up are the unforgettable Fuel Girls: M.O.D.’s acrobatic, fire-spitting dancers who live the extreme sports lifestyle like it’s nobody’s business”.
Over the last ten years, M.O.D. has pulled off more than 200 shows in 18 countries, extending its reach beyond its Austrian origins to places like Malta, Cyprus, England, South Africa and Dubai.
From its beginning as a way to give Fechter’s excitement for freestyle motocross a space in Vienna, it turned not only into a full-time job for him and his expanding team, but also a home for a growing community.
One of the things that makes it so special is that there is no competition – like most similar events – but the drivers have complete freedom to show whatever they want in the way they want to.
“What makes me proud is how much fun the riders have at our shows. Some of them even tattoo our logo on their arms or legs!” Fechter relates this with evident pleasure. He is convinced that the key is not being only a businessman, but “one of the guys – just wanting to be out there having a good time on the bike.”
The show must go on
Still, pulling together a show with dozens of headstrong free style bikers and tens of thousands of adrenaline-hungry spectators – as M.O.D. do with their current “Limitless” tour, having already filled halls in Linz and Vienna this year’s March and April – does require stamina and work. A core team of four to seven people constantly works with Fechter, keeping the daily business running, organizing new shows and logistics and staying in touch with drivers and fans. On the day of the event itself, over 300 people are involved with keeping the machine humming.
As of late, enthusiasts can also have a look behind the scenes at the show’s Youtube channel or stay in contact with other fans with the Masters of Dirt app and share photos of their tattoos, bikes, or fashion choices (M.O.D. has sported its own fashion line for three years).
Keeping the show running can also be a deeply personal challenge. When CEO, business partner and Fechter’s close friend, Arthur Magnus, was killed in a traffic accident in 2016, he left a deep hole both in Fechter’s life, and in the community he helped to build. Farther away, but still a lot to swallow, are the accidents of professional freestyle bikers that occur from time to time – even though Fechter gratefully reports that nothing like that had happened so far at one of his shows.
So what’s ahead? The “Limitless” tour rolls on, next September Beirut stands for the first time on the program and negotiations with Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan and Dubai are going one.
But no worries; the Stadthalle is also already booked until 2020 – Austrians would be nowhere without their adrenaline boosts, mud and bouts of fire.
Next Events in Austria & the M.O.D. Tribe
October 6 & 7
Masters of Dirt 2017
M.O.D. events, tour dates and afterparty locations are shared over its social media:
Fashion & App
Masters of Dirt app for Android & iOS