RJ Says – Supercross Safety 2012
Anyone who saw what happened with Trey Canard and Ryan Morais at Dodger Stadium Saturday night knows that it was a horrendous crash. Nobody likes to see that. Unfortunately that’s part of our sport, and crashes do happen.
I’ve heard opinions from everybody about how it could have been prevented. What it comes down to is that two guys were trying to occupy the same space at the same time and wound up going down very hard. It was a scary crash – it affected a lot of people in addition to the two riders.
What I would like to talk about is how Feld Motorsports, the AMA, track personnel, and the Asterisk medical crew handled the whole situation.
I was on the second level of the stadium, so I could see pretty much everything that happened right in front of us – from the impact, to how the flaggers, medical crew, and even the announcers responded.
Going down that list, some of the mechanics came and got the bikes out of the way. Flaggers put up the tuff blocks to protect the riders. Medics were on site almost before the riders had stopped rolling around. Dr. Bodnar and his crew assessed the situation and split duties between the two riders. It looked like Morais seemed to be a bit more of a concern because of the blood and the problem with his jaw. When they got both of the riders off the track, one of the things that’s difficult is maintaining the crowd.
Some people thought that it was cold of the announcers to get the crowd doing the wave and other things like that. But what needs to be understood, and what I’m so impressed with, is that Feld and the announcers were able to keep the crowd in control with two hurt riders down on the field. My hat is off to the great job the announcers, the track crew, the medical crew, and Feld management handled the situation.
Thank God that Trey and Ryan are OK. It was one of the scariest crashes I have ever seen. They are both broken and beaten up, but they are going to be able to “walk and talk”, and that is the important thing.
Many people have been talking about the tuff blocks and suggesting that they need to go away. However, it’s a very unlikely chance that one of the covers gets caught on a footpeg, but it does happen once in a while. But the truth is, tuff blocks are the best way of protecting the riders at this time. Yes, there are some flaws in the design. Are they the ultimate solution? No. But someone would be out of their mind to think that Feld would put something out there that could endanger a rider. In fact, they have continued to invest and use the best safety equipment and standards available. Safety is very important.
Feld has spent a lot of money to come up with the best design for the tuff blocks and hold them down as best they can for the safety of the rider. The cover getting hooked in Trey’s footpeg was a freak situation, and that is the reason why he decided not to jump all the way on a triple jump.
Unfortunately there is only so much you can do in such a dangerous sport, but we still need to protect our riders. I will always err on the side of the rider, but I’m also sympathetic to an organizer who needs to put on a show and does the best they can to keep a rider safe. The truth is, there is no way that you can take the danger completely out of Supercross. It will never happen. Motorcycling racing is dangerous.
Another aspect of safety, the emergency/medical side of things has come a long way. Having a doctor on site that can handle trauma and just about any situation, as well as assess injuries at the track is very important. They have it dialed in quite well. There is even the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit, which is the closest thing to a hospital on wheels.
When I was racing in the ’80s, there were times when I was knocked out in practice with a concussion, and then went on to race the main event later that night. Outdoors, there were times when I would crash out of the first moto, and then line up for the second moto and not even know which direction the track went. But we didn’t know any better back then, and the mentality was that you couldn’t be a puss and you just needed to push through it. I took some big chances that I probably shouldn’t have.
I can compare it a bit to what I’m seeing in the NFL. Back in the day, players used to continue to play on with concussions, injury, etc. It was both that they didn’t know any better back then, and, players didn’t want to be perceived as being a puss.
Today, in both the NFL, and in Supercross, the speed with how quickly the medics can assess a situation and determine what is best for the athlete is so much better than it used to be. In MX and Supercross, today the medics and doctors are around the riders enough that they know them personally and they know the medical game better than anybody.
So again, my hat is off to Feld Motorsports, the AMA, track personnel, and the Asterisk medical crew on how they handled the whole situation. And thank God that both Trey and Ryan are OK.
Ricky Johnson is a seven time AMA Supercross / Motocross Champion. This is his blog.
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