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Monster Energy Supercross: Detroit, is it time for change in Supercross?

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Monster Energy Supercross: Detroit, is it time for change in Supercross?

The 12th round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross concluded in Detroit leaving behind some hard to ignore layout deficiencies on the Ford Field.  While the series progresses to St. Louis I find myself asking more questions about the overall structure of the series (as it continues to grow and become more mainstream) and less questions about who will or will not be crowned the champion.  At the pinnacle of Supercross why was there not enough dirt to cover the stadium floor and how did the stadium floor start peeking through after only 2 laps in the first 250 heat?  Is it time to look at different track building techniques?  Here are some different ideas :

 

 

 

Another series challenge is the need of updated timed qualifiers.  I would like to see the top 20 timed qualifiers split in the heats.  Rewarding the top half of the field, top 10 in each heat get a 2 second advantage over the other half of the gate, prevents slower guys from becoming moving road blocks.   The rest of qualifying should follow suit, if you don't qualify out of the heat or win your semi, during the Main event you take off in the second wave.  Again, this will reward the top qualifiers.  This will also give us the elite matchups in the front of the field, Dungey vs Tomac and the moving roadblocks like Alessi and Friese won't be in the way.  Every other major form of racing rewards fast qualifying.  This will also make the first turn far safer, and while it's cool seeing 22 of the worlds fastest 450’s funnel into a couple lines, the bikes are too fast and have outgrown the current starting procedure.  This will help keep the stars healthy and on the track, but still maintain the  entertainment factor.

The final issue in review is how quick the riders figure out the fast lines.  With dartfish and overlapping video these teams have taken out the guesswork of finding the fastest line.   If part of the track was not opened until the night program, riders may have more difficulty discovering the fasted line before the race has started.  Give the guys a hot lap and then turn them loose!  While this doesn’t seem to promote safety, it rewards riders who can learn new sections quickly, making the series more interesting as we will see different rider’s skills outside of dirt preference.  Also, the much debated “chase” format has been discussed and in this era of short attention spans, smart phones, and instant gratification we have lost the appreciation for a season long war.  If we want to attract a new generation of fans, we need to up the intensity and make sure the champion is not crowned halfway through the series (like Dungey in 2016), we can't count on Eli making it interesting every year.

These are just a couple things I feel need to be addressed for the future of Supercross, what do you think?  Should we add a shark pit or have riders change a tire for starting position? Let me hear your ideas.

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My Opinion:
(1) Bare spots in the track:
Obvious answer is for the race owners to spend more money and get it right. Have bare spots always been a problem on SX tracks, or is this a relatively new phenomena? 

(2) Track features made from materials other than dirt:
I say don't do it. Keep the tracks 100% dirt. That's MX. That's what us recreational riders relate to the best, as well. The more you make it board track racing, the more it becomes a circus act. Did you see the MXGP Indonesia mudder? Painful to watch, but that's MX dirt racing baby!

(3) Two row starts:
I love the idea. I think it would work great. The top 8-12 riders earn this privilege. I wish they'd just try it for a night? I think the racers will like it. I think it's safer.  

(4) Riders figuring out the fast lines using video tech:
Chris, I'm not sure what the problem is here. Is this a problem because the low budget teams don't have access to the technology you mention?

(5) Of the different audiences, which one are we trying to please? 
The folks that go to their local stadium once a year to watch a race are one of the revenue streams. A second audience is the series follower. We watch every race. I'm guessing there's a third audience that is the general cable television sports watcher. This fan will watch Pro Bull Rodeo one night, a replay of a SX race another night, and F1 race another.

I'm wondering if each of these audiences would want to see different changes, to make the race, or the series, more interesting to them?

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I think the track layout was very good this week, just they had bad dirt.
I also think the two row start would be pretty cool, maybe try it at the monster cup first though.
I also think there need to be split lanes, and maybe a some off camber 90°s

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8 hours ago, Hendricus said:

My Opinion:


(4) Riders figuring out the fast lines using video tech:
Chris, I'm not sure what the problem is here. Is this a problem because the low budget teams don't have access to the technology you mention?

 

Some have been suggesting that it inherently creates a single line track. Where as with out it, the riders would be trying different lines to figure it out. In doing so a diversity of lines would be created. 

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Heats - Move 5 riders to the main   (All of the best riders are in the heat)

Semi - Move 4 riders to the main   (Most of the best riders have gone to the main.)

Start

Keep the 22 across start, but make 2 lanes to the first turn.

One side of the dog house is longer to the first turn.   This would create two waves of riders without having a rider get caught behind someone stuck in the gate.

First turn to the left.

= is Tuff blocks

==================

1-11  --------------------------    Turn left   ^

==========================

12-22     ---------------------------------------    Turn left   ^                                             

========================================

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the wave idea is good in theory but implementing it would be difficult, you'd either need two rows of gates or individually operated gates and it would take a lot of strategy out of gate selection. maybe some sort of staggered gate like how they start a track and field race would be a good compromise.

 

this sport is never going to be mainstream IMO, it may grow but it's growth is not independent of other sports. As it grows so is nascar and soccer and UFC etc... it's way to much a niche and for the majority of people that dont ride it's not that interesting or relatable.  I like dirtbikes but i dont watch F1 or bull riding so I dont think your casual viewer is watching F1 one night bull riding the next and then SX. Rather then trying to appeal to masses, focus should be on your core audience and getting them as involved as possible. one way to do this might be fan voting for track layout. 

A more radical idea might be to get rid of the pit board and give the mechanic one way radio comm to the rider similar to in auto racing and letting the fan tune into communication between mechanic and rider. it may have to be regulated so they can only communicate as the rider passes through the pit area.

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I like the split start idea, but keep in mind that the more you do to slow up the bottom half of the field, the sooner they start getting lapped, and the more of them that will be lapped.  I think the biggest problem is the lack of passing opportunities inherent in trying to squeeze the tracks into small venues.

The bare floor problem in Detroit was an embarrassment for Dirt Wurx.

 

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Looking further at the split start:
(1) In theory..., the split start would be safer, but is this true? 11 at a time is probably just a dangerous as 22.
(2) In theory... "the fast guys," or "the elite 6," if there is such a thing, would not "get stuck" passing 15 guys to get from 20th the 5th. Looking at Detroit, Dungey made pretty quick work of getting to Bagget. In a post race comment, Dungey said he got stuck behind Bagget. This merely speaks of Dungey's inability to pass Bagget. Considering Detroit, if we had a split start, Dungey would have gotten to Bagget sooner. Would Dungey have then caught MM25 or ET3? No way! Not this race anyway.

Edited by Hendricus
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What about a more complex points system? Right now you have to race the main to earn points. How about points awarded for qualifying position and every race throughout the night. Would this serve to improve something?

In discussing changes, I don't think it works to discuss what I think will make SX more popular for a "marketed to" audience. It's ridiculous for me to speak on behalf of the arbitrary masses. I think the best way to engage this discussion is for me to talk about the things that might make the racing more interesting for me.

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I've been through several different threads discussing a change to the points system.  I even went as far as mapping most/all of the recommended systems into spreadsheets and applying the actual finishing positions from the same riders.  The only thing that changed the outcome was to award one point for a win and zero points for everyone else.

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I'm not a big F1 fan, but I've seen discussions on how to make the races more interesting/engaging/entertaining to watch. The discussion talked about overtakes (passing), how these were the exciting moments, and that there were too few per race.

SX/MX has a similar problem I guess..., if we are trying to identify problems with SX.

I will agree that passing, bar-to-bar racing, close racing, etc, is what makes motorsports in general, more exciting. But in SX/MX, does not the rider enter "a zone of increased danger" whenever they battle it out with someone with equal, or close to equal, speed? I think with motorcycle racing you have a unique situation in terms of the danger. NASCAR seems to be doing okay with their new segment system, but if SX/MX were to implement systems that bunched the riders back together, I think we have to consider the increased possibility of injury.

Sometimes I think we (the fans) are too focused on the winner, the champ, and the championship. We don't just kickback and enjoy watching a race, and watching whatever battles and passes develop on the track. The champ, the top dawg, that's all we care about...

Edited by Hendricus
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I think 2 row starts is great but top finishers from the previous race should be limited to gate choices in the second row. It forces top guys to mix it up and pass more which is more exciting for everyone except the top guys that no longer can check out on lap 1 and win the race on the start. It also gives those back markers and privateers a chance to shine and gain some confidence. If top guys always get the best front gate pics it'd still be boring races but if the fastest guy always starts 10th or worse it would make for exciting races.

It'd never happen obviously but multi row starts work for other disciplines. The local car tracks impliment top finishers start in the back and they always find their way to the front. Way better than a chase format or extended series. Maybe a points change that would allow for 1 or 2 races to be dropped so a bad night doesn't have as big of an impact like best 15 of 17 or something.

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On 3/27/2017 at 0:45 PM, CORider63 said:

I've been through several different threads discussing a change to the points system.  I even went as far as mapping most/all of the recommended systems into spreadsheets and applying the actual finishing positions from the same riders.  The only thing that changed the outcome was to award one point for a win and zero points for everyone else.

CORider, great input! It would take some work but it would be fun to see a report written up using the data you created. I don't mean this as "You should do this." I mean it in the general sense. I could do it too.

Assuming that you handled a number of the "what if" scenarios correctly and sufficiently ( - and I think you did), we have now arrived at the conclusion that there's not much you can do to the points scoring system that would provide closer competition, more excitement..., more...., more, more, MORE!

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The only real opposition I've heard to the purely-mathematical comparisons is that one system or another could provide additional incentive for riders to perform better.  My counterargument to that is it should provide additional motivation for the front-runner, as well.

Here's a breakdown:

_Points 1.png

 

_Points 2.png

 

_Points 3.png

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To me safety is an issue. I think injury is the "big ugly" in MX/SX.

This said, I don't know what safety measure would have saved Roczen. Well..., maybe an airbag suite would have saved him. An airbag suite would have worked for Ken, but I don't see it working in a quick slam, such as Tomac's shoulder injury.

Punting your fellow rider, such as Christian Craig punting Alex Martin in Detroit, should have stiff penalties. No way should the riders be allowed to use their bikes as a weapon. Ever! In the case of Craig on Martin, I think Craig should be penalized, maybe banned for two or three races. Any points chase he's in should be ruined.

Risky cavalier riders, such as Canard a couple of years ago, and Anderson last year, need to be warned, and eventually penalized. They must understand the limits of the race risk they want to take, versus the overall safety ethos. They need to understand that they are a part of the safety culture too. They actually create and maintain it, each and every race. The rules provided by the sanctioning body are only part of how safety is maintained.    

Tracks should be designed and maintained with safety in mind, but this can get tricky. Riders might complain about a track getting slick, or they might not like the deep and peaky whoops. The very nature and the entire history of SX has been to race over obstacles (jumps, whoops, sand, rutted corners, etc.)

Edited by Hendricus
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27 minutes ago, CORider63 said:

The only real opposition I've heard to the purely-mathematical comparisons is that one system or another could provide additional incentive for riders to perform better.  My counterargument to that is it should provide additional motivation for the front-runner, as well.

Here's a breakdown:

Wow! Nice! Thank you! I will definitely look at this. Call me weird, but I love seeing a little supporting data related to SX/MX once in a while.

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