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RJ Says: Give me a break in between supercross and motocross

Published June 30th, 2011

Is the combined supercross / motocross season of today’s era too long?



As a former supercross and motocross racer, I don’t think the season is too long. Racers want to race.



But I would like to see a couple of changes that I think will make it better for the riders, teams, and most importantly, the fans.



First, I’d like to see a much longer break in between the end of the Supercross season, and the start of the MX season.



I think it would be great if the riders could have at least a couple off weekends off after the supercross season ends. One of the reasons is they could do more ‘outdoor’ testing at that time, instead of during supercross season.

A good example is Trey Canard. I believe when Trey got hurt earlier this year, during supercross season, he was testing for outdoor nationals. There is a big difference in the speed and timing required of a rider racing supercross compared to motocross. It really is completely different. Supercross is more timing, precision, and smoothness, while MX is more high speed and you let the bike move around underneath you more.



You might think it would be the same – it’s a motorcycle, and there are bumps and jumps. But it’s not. The bike set up is different. The speeds are different. Your training is different. Your rhythm is different.



So, I think at least two weekends off minimum … three if somehow it could be squeezed in, at the end of supercross, would be great for the riders before they start their motocross season.



For guys that have done well in supercross, it would give them time to enjoy their success. For riders that didn’t have a great supercross season, it gives them an opportunity to regroup. For all riders, it gives them a physical and mental break to get as close to 100% healthy as possible.



Some people have commented that the season is too long, or that they have to run too many races in a row without a break, especially in supercross. I agree somewhat … but as a racer, it’s just status quo – you want to race. So I can see how it’s difficult if you have a small injury during the supercross season and you have to keep going every week, but racing motor sports isn’t for the weak.



At the end of the season, the best guy will be champion. And that factors in everything – including health, team, fitness, speed – everything. Again, racers just want to race. It’s business as usual. If you are not racing, you are training. And if you are not training you are racing. So I wouldn’t say the season is too long, or there are too many races in a row.



No doubt it’s difficult for a rider if you get hurt during the start or middle of supercross. I can tell you firsthand it’s very difficult to get healthy during the season. That’s part of why I say the guy that is crowned supercross champion has earned it, deserves it, and is the best. It’s not just who is the fastest guy, but the guy (and his team) that puts all aspects of it together for the season.



Looking at the World MX Championships, one guy I really admire is World Champion Tony Cairoli. That dude is incredibly smart, and, he doesn’t get the recognition in the USA for how good he really is. Not only is he very smart, he’s super-smart on and about the motorcycle and racing. Add on top of that, this guy is truly a world class athlete. He’s in position to claim his fifth world title this season should he win the MX1 World Championship. That doesn’t happen by accident. And he has the right team of people around him.



Tony has been able to continue at a top level, even though he’s not 100% physically fit this season. Dude is smart, world class physically (even racing this season at less than 100% so far) and very savvy on the bike.



This season in supercross, the top four guys – Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto, former two-time Supercross Champion Chad Reed, 2010 AMA Supercross Series Champion Ryan Dungey, and former two-time Supercross Champion James Stewart stayed relatively healthy, and brought the Supercross series right down to the wire. It was great for us fans!



Was that an aberration that the top four guys stayed (relatively) healthy the entire supercross series?



I don’t think so. I think the bikes are getting better. The suspension is better. The tracks are safer. And, most importantly, I think the top guys are taking their physical training to a higher level than ever before.


Feld Motor Sports is putting on a new event in October. It’s called the Monster Energy Cup. It’s going to be a hybrid supercross / motocross track at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. There will be three ‘ main events ‘. If a rider can win all three main events, he can pocket a million dollars.



Some people have asked me if I’m coming out of retirement to race this race. (That’s a dumb question. I’d get smoked. I’ve been retired for over 20 years now.) But there is something I’d like to see there – a ‘competition yellow flag’.



Let’s say each race is 10 laps. Maybe at the six lap mark you put out the yellow flag, and all the riders have to be bunched back together. If a guy gets a bad start, or falls down, he gets an opportunity to catch up – maybe even win. It would be a mad sprint to the finish.



I race off-road trucks now, and I can say it works awesome, and it’s something I’m a big fan of. If introduced into supercross and motocross, I think it would ultimately be very. very popular for the fans. Not only the fans there, but fans watching on the Internet or on TV.



When we first started doing it in truck racing, I hated it. If you got out front, why would you want to let someone close up the gap on you? I didn’t like it. I worked hard to build a lead, and was not happy about letting second place restart right on my tail.



But after a while, I’ve learned to love it. It makes for closer racing, and that’s what fans want to see. No one really wants to see a guy run away with a race and make it a cakewalk.



Until next time …



RJ







Rick Johnson has won seven AMA Supercross and MX National Championships, along with multiple Grand Prix victories, and multiple Motocross and Trophee des Nations wins for Team USA.

RJ Says: Give me a break in between supercross and motocross - Photo 1 of 1

Rick at 2010 A Day In The Dirt at Pala Raceway in southern California

 


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