Let’s get right to it: What the hell happened to our boys at the MXdN? It seems like each year that passes we make another excuse as to why the rest of the world has passed us by in motocross racing. Yes, it rained. Yes, the track was changed slightly and sand was added. Yes, Eli rode a 2019. Who the hell cares?! For decades we’ve overcome whatever obstacles were put in front of us and we won. What has changed that we can’t even hit the podium in our own country?
I don’t think there is a single reason why we’ve lost our hold on the Chamberlain Trophy. I believe there are many reasons. First of all, we don’t spend enough time racing motocross anymore. The supercross season starts in the middle of September and doesn’t end until the middle of May. So, essentially, we spend the summer racing a discipline that GP racers focus on for 11 months out of the year (assuming they take a month off at the end of the season). I’ve heard some argue that supercross expertise was the reason American riders were so dominant in the first place. That may have been true back before the number of supercross races in a season doubled, but now our lack of outdoor track time is hurting us. And believe me when I tell you that the two types of racing are very different. Just because you’re on a motocross bike doesn’t mean everything translates; that is why there are supercross and outdoor specialists. The GP season ends the week prior to the MXoN while ours ends over a month prior; this is a major reason some of our top guys don’t want to commit to it. Not only does it delete whatever down time they were going to have in the off-season, but it means they have a month of no racing while the GP regulars stay sharp.
We’ve gone to a single style of track prep here in the U.S., which is basically rip it deep enough to plant rows of corn and then flood it like it’s the last time you’ll ever be able to put water on it. It keeps dust away, which is great for spectators, but it has eliminated variations in racing surfaces. The GPs have soil that ranges from hard clay with rocks to sand so soft and deep you want to set your bike down and build a sand castle. All of these seemingly insignificant things add up to the loss of our dominance. I will add that the RedBud MXoN was just an odd race. Crashes, bad starts, DNFs, and just some flat-out bizarre moments made for a strange weekend and unusual results. I don’t know what happens from here but to win next year means we have to take down the arrogant Jeffrey Herlings and his squad on their sandy home turf, which is no easy task.
A couple of my buddies and I have been presented with a pretty unique opportunity. We’re all active duty Air Force guys and are currently stationed in North Carolina. A local track has offered us the chance to run and maintain the facility for them in exchange for free ride time. The track as of now is rarely open, but I’m hoping that we’d be able to put some work into it and have it open every weekend.
With that being said, I was curious what kind of advice you may have in order to run a track, since you’ve been around the sport for some time. I was also curious what kind of tips you could give in regards to making a track that is challenging, yet fun and safe for riders of all levels, on all bikes.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
First of all, thank you for your service; it’s much appreciated. Not knowing what the terrain looks like I’ll give you the advice I can. First, I’ve long believed that prep and soil make all the difference. Figure out the best way to groom and water your dirt so that you get the best traction possible for your guests and they will continue to show up. If you have hills or elevation change, use it. Motocross is more fun with uphills and downhills and they are safe ways to give the track character. Keep the jumps safe. Tabletops and step-ups are both good options that can be fun for a wide range of riders. Yes, they take more dirt to build but they’re worth it because you won’t hurt your clientele as easily. Be consistent with the days you are open. Don’t run quads on the same days you run bikes. Use flaggers to keep riders safe. Build a kids track so the little ones can get involved.
Hope this gives you a little direction to get started. If you need more on the specifics, get back in touch with me and I’ll have the pros at MX Sports provide solid feedback. Best of luck.
Long time reader, love the article every week… two-part question:
1. Track Design: My first memory of you involves one of my favorite track designs from the golden era; the ‘96 Anaheim round incorporated the horseshoe whoops section before the finish. Though it didn’t work out that well for you as you tried to blast Dobb off the track and had to ride around the rest of the main with some uni-sided ape hangers, I think in 2019 this would be an interesting take for the four-strokes and no doubt lead to some bar banging going into the last turn… What’s your thoughts on bringing back some of these late ‘90s designs?
2. Paycheck(s): So as we watched Eli take the Monster Million this year I have to wonder exactly how much he took home that night. A.) We can assume that Eli gets paid to be at this Monster sponsored event as he has to hit certain races per his contract; but I’m sure he’s getting paid for this event just to show up right? B.) With it being Monster event did he have a special incentive bonus in his contract if he won this event? C.) Picking up just the race win probably landed him 6 figures right? D.) Let’s not forget about the million check for winning all three rounds? So let’s get down to brass tax, how much money (pre-tax and payout to Savatgy) did Eli end up taking home Saturday night?
Brrrrng a-ding ding!!
I feel like track design has gone a bit flat over the past several years. Every round looks mostly the same with similar obstacles and layouts. I would love to see the track crew go back and recreate tracks from ten and 20 years ago that provided great racing. If they looked at tapes from prior years and found tracks that had great races it would give the announcers something to talk about in the broadcast, fans something to look back at and compare and a track that is proven to be entertaining. No, those turning whoops didn’t work out for me, but that was my own fault. They were unique and challenging, something today’s track need badly.
I don’t know what type of stipulations Eli had in his contract. Being a Monster-sponsored team, I’m sure Kawasaki was obligated to be there with their riders and that was included in the contracts of both Eli and Joey. I don’t think Eli got an additional bonus to race the Monster Energy Cup, but he likely has win bonuses from Kawasaki, Alpinestars, etc. I would guess he grossed 1.5 million, but I’m totally speculating.
Did he pay Savatgy? If he didn’t, he should. That was as obvious as they come and played out like a bad WWE fight. For Joey, he’s just happy to have a job and he wants to show his new boss what a team player he is. What he doesn’t realize is that his loyalty won’t mean much at the end of this contract; if his results aren’t good enough he will be gone, no matter how many times he helps Eli. That is the simple reality of this sport and business in general. I think a main event win in your rookie debut would have gone a long way, but that’s just my opinion. Thanks for reading, Brooks.
Have a question for Ping? Hit him up at [email protected].