Five Things I Learned at the Los Angeles Supercross
Supercross season is now in full swing. As we look back at the last Saturday’s inaugural supercross event at Dodger Stadium, we have learned a lot of things about those running out front, and those who are the also-rans. Both classes have provided tons of excitement and more than a little drama. Here is a look back at Saturday’s Supercross and five things I learned:
1. For average fans, and even some knowledgeable fans, and exponential growth, I’d like to see ESPN’s involvement in the sport again.
Nothing against all the TV coverage and production companies and networks involved since ESPN was last involved back in the early 2000’s, but ESPN has become the ‘de facto’ sports network in the USA. Even after all these years, fans still ask “What time will the race be on ESPN?” And what’s the even bigger benefit for all involved? SportsCenter. If Supercross could have highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter – it will make a big difference in how the sport is perceived and bring it to sports fans that have never heard of supercross.
2. The Big Four are as good as we thought, but not exactly who we thought.
Coming into the Supercross season all the talk was about the Big Four – Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart and Chad Reed. That has primarily been the case – with one small exception: Chad Reed’s Two-Two Motorsports entry has placed 5th, 5th and 7th thus far. The fourth spot has belonged to rookie Trey Canard.
Everyone knew Trey could handle the larger displacement bikes after a good run filling in for injured Andrew Short for a few races last season. Did anyone expecte him to be this good? Despite two trips to the LCQ after crashes in his heat races, Canard has run right up front with three guys who have held a number one plate over their head.
Watching those four guys wheel to wheel (and, ironically, disproving Josh Hansen‘s theory that everyone was running the same speed on that “basic” track) at Dodger Stadium still has my blood pumping!
3. Life has bumps in the road – even for the Pro Circuit boys.
The podium was completely devoid of green Saturday. Cole Seely earned his first ever Supercross Lites victory, Eli Tomac earned his first ever podium. Ryan Morais made his second straight appearance on the box. Not that they were that far away from the top: Broc Tickle finished fourth and Josh Hansen finished fifth and they remain 1st and 2nd in the points standings. I also give the Apple Award to Hansen for the race’s most teachable moment when he escorted Mr. Canada into the tuff blocks after Canada pushed him so wide coming across the starting straightaway.
4. Energy Drinks rule the sport.
Take a look at a picture of the podium from the Supercross class. We have Rockstar, Monster and Red Bull. Back in fifth we had Muscle Milk. Nearly every team mentioned begins with an energy drink reference. I personally enjoy one of them, though I will not mention which one.
There is a lot of research being done right now on energy drinks. With the addictive nature of some, could the sport as a whole be setting itself up for future failure? What if energy drinks are regulated like alcohol? What if the enormous revenue they generate goes away? Will they be able to invest in the same way in the sport, riders, series, and teams?
Once upon a time, Winston refused to sponsor both the NASCAR series, and a race team. I believe more thought needs to be put into where the sport (and energy drink participation) will be in the future.
I love my drink (OK, it’s Monster!), but I love dirt bikes even more.
5. Podium speeches, not sponsor lists?
One discussion that did not ignite controversy on forums and discussion boards last year was the topic of podium speeches. Everyone put aside their differences and came together in agreement that it was totally lame to hear nothing more than a list of sponsors for every podium interview. And just as lame for the mechanic to stand just in front of the stage with the list written on his pit board.
After 30 podium interviews (one for each heat race winner in each class, three for the main event podium in each class, three rounds) I only recall hearing the laundry list regurgitated once – and I cannot even remember who was guilty. I would like to think this is in response to the displeasure of the fans, but something tells me it is no different than nearly everything else in the world – driven by money. Either way, it is nice to have “A-ha” moments discovering things about a favorite rider rather than the “A-ha” moment being that your guy is sponsored by Acme Anvils.
I realize that three of the five things above are the rants of a hair-brained fan who studied the party scene way too much in college. Normally, I am more race-focused than sport-focused. But TV coverage, the potential (and very possible) fallout from losing all the energy drink money and the impact it will have on the sport, and the wonderful breath of fresh air coming from podium interviews stewed in my brain during every commercial break. Luckily for you, the reader, I watch the races over and over again thanks to my awesome DVR. Hence, no commercial breaks and less time to ponder these issues.
I would like to hear what the rest of you crazy rabid Supercross fans think about these issues, so leave a comment below.