New Motorsports Megastore Drawing Interest Across Indy
Photographer: Ron Wise
Bill Starkey’s love for motorsports was kindled early – very early. By the age of 13, the Indianapolis native and Ben Davis High School grad already had a job at Dreyer Motorsports removing motors for the in-house techs to work on.
“I was always fixing my own dirt bikes as a kid and buying my own parts with money that I earned from detasseling corn and a paper route,” Starkey recalls. “By my senior year in high school I was doing full engine builds and diagnostic work. Motorcycles, dirt bikes, motocross — I loved all that stuff as a kid and did races through my early 20s. I just love the industry.”
Small wonder, then, that Starkey decided to launch his own powersport megastore in March of 2017. Flat Out Motorsports offers motorcycles, watercraft, dirt bikes, ATVs and more, and the location of his establishment, off of I-69 and previously occupied by General Motors, is one of several factors he feels contributes to the store’s success so far.
“Our market is one-third of one percent of the population, so I knew I needed to build in the right place at the right time with the right products,” says Starkey, whose wife Amy also works at Flat Out. “That’s what brought me to the I-69 corridor. I think having a large selection helps in this industry too, because brand popularity changes a lot and you have to evolve with that.”
Starkey’s foray into the motorsport industry began in the mid-1990s when he opened a 400-square-foot shop buying and selling motorcycle parts. A few years later, he graduated to selling used motorcycles and, by 2007, was operating an east-side Suzuki dealership, a Yamaha and Polaris dealership in Martinsville and a Yamaha store in Greenwood.
After the economic downturn of 2008-2009, Starkey decided it was time to close several of his smaller establishments and build out a megastore in an optimal location that would allow him to modify his selection of products according to ever-changing consumer preferences.
“I knew that to have a chance in this business you have to have a large selection and good exposure to internet traffic and interstate traffic,” he says.
Keeping his Martinsville location, Starkey embarked on a complete floor-to-ceiling renovation in the latter half of 2016 following the purchase of his northside facility. Flat Out’s expansive showroom now houses Polaris, Indian, Slingshot, Can-Am, Yamaha and Sea-Doo products among others, and Starkey has doubled his staff since opening to meet increasing sales and service demand.
“Our growth is 100 percent this year, and, again, I think that’s due to the right location, products and people,” says Starkey, who has also operated an online sister auto parts company for the last 12 years.
“The powersports industry is not actually in very good shape, but things have been going well for us because we can adapt our inventory to a business that’s consistently changing every day,” he adds. “Indian and Slingshot have been big sellers, and in this market near Geist and Morse, Sea-Doo does great.”
Starkey works full-time for the Indianapolis Fire Department at Station 44 – a position he’s held for 22 years since completing a four-year stint in the Army after high school. He says the job helps to balance the stress of operating within the motorsports industry — an industry he says will likely be as unrecognizable in 10 to 15 years as it was when he was a youngster.
“Ten years from now, honestly I don’t know how many motorcycles we’ll be selling — millennials aren’t buying them,” he says, adding that Flat Out Motorsports sponsors several fundraisers each year including the Indianapolis Miracle Ride supporting Riley Hospital. “We’ll have to continue to mold our product line based on what the consumer wants. You just have to adapt and overcome.”
Flat Out Motorsports is located at 7525 East 88th Place in Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-890-9110 and visit flatoutmotorcycles.com.