Okay, I have to admit, when I first saw rumors on the Vital MX Forum of the '17 Motocross of Nations being yanked from Glen Helen Raceway, I was skeptical. But when the press release from Youthstream landed in my in box later that morning, I was more than a little bummed.

In my opinion, Glen Helen got far more than the short end of the stick on this deal. Yes, attendance had been terrible for several GPs there, but Bud Feldkamp and Glen Helen kept coming back for more, showing the MXGP series quite a bit of support here in the U.S. Yep, a lot of that was due to Bud's lifelong dream of hosting a Motocross of Nations, but as I understand it,  poor spectator turnouts at both Charlotte and Glen Helen are what doomed it. U.S. fans don't seem particularly engaged, and neither party wanted to gamble on laying out big expenditures with the hopes that it'd draw anything less than a massive crowd.

Anyone who was at Glen Helen this year knows that the announced 27,000 number wasn't even close to how many fans turned out. If we had to guess, the actual attendance at the 2016 National there was something between 12,000 and 15,000 fans. It was a good-sized crowd, but it wasn't masses of people that made it impossible to move around. At the GP? Well, let's just say you had your pick of spots along the fence line.


Just out of curiosity, we dug through all the 2016 race reports provided by Youthstream to find the attendance numbers at other events on the MXGP schedule. They're all nicely rounded...well, either that, or the fans politely showed up in exact multiples of 1000. Each weekend showed either crowd attendance, or weekend crowd attendance (and we're not sure what constitutes the scope of a "weekend". (Friday/Saturday/Sunday? Saturday and Sunday only?) But either way, it gets a little interesting...particularly if you use the "accuracy" of Glen Helen's attendance figure as a starting point.

MXGP of Qatar (Losail) Crowd Attendance: 10,000
MXGP of Thailand (Suphan Buri) Crowd Attendance: 25,000
MXGP of Europe (Valkenswaard) Crowd Attendance: 23,000
MXGP of Patagonia Argentina (Neuquen) Crowd Attendance: 29,000
MXGP of Leon Crowd attendance: 33,000
MXGP of Latvia (Kegums) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 26,000
MXGP of Germany (Teutschenthal) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 28,000
MXGP of Trentino (Pietramurata) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 29,000
MXGP of Spain (Talavera de la Reina) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 17,000
MXGP of France (Saint Jean d'Angely) Weekend Crowd Attenadance: 41,000
MXGP of Great Britain (Matterley Basin) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 37,000
MXGP of Lombardia-Italy (Mantova) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 27,000
MXGP of Czech Republic (Loket) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 25,000
MXGP of Belgium (Lommel) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 25,000
MXGP of Switzerland (Frauenfeld - Gachnang) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 45,000
MXGP of The Netherlands (Assen) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 32,000
MXGP of Americas (Charlotte Motor Speedway) Weekend Crowd Attendance: 15,500
MXGP of USA (Glen Helen) Crowd Attendance: 27,000
MXoN (Maggiora) MXoN Weekend Crowd Attendance: 85,000

We'd guess the crowd during this year's Saturday's qualifying races at Glen Helen was primarily made up of guys in the 50+ age range. These were guys who have an attachment to the GPs from the days when it was hosted at Carlsbad, and huge crowds showed up to watch legendary names like DeCoster, Wolsink, Malherbe, Mikkola, and Noyce. Americans were the upstarts, and fans here watched Brad Lackey battle his way up through the rankings, chasing a world title. Everything about the series seemed particularly exotic, distant, and glamorous.

When the late Marty Moates finally became the first American to beat the Europeans in 1980 and win the USGP at Carlsbad  it was a huge achievement, and a lot of people seem to have forgotten (or never knew) how big it was.

These days, the world seems a whole lot smaller, with no shortage of info available. You don't need to wait half a week for Cycle News (or way longer for the print magazines) to find out what happens with the GPs. Americans also don't struggle against the competitors across the pond like they used to back in the 70s (and we're not trying to start an us vs. them debate...there are plenty of good guys on both sides). But people here in the U.S. also don't seem as invested in the MXGP series. What's it going to take to get Americans more interested in it? We're not sure. We've got a couple competitors racing in MX2 now (Thomas Covington, and now Darian Sanayei), but there's no full-time American in the MXGP class.

In the end, it really was a mutual decision between the Glen Helen and Youthstream to pull the plug on the MXoN here. According to folks at Glen Helen, the way they left it with Youthstream was the next MXoN in the U.S. would, "never be anywhere but Glen Helen." Whether that proves to be the case remains to be seen. We love the event, and dig the vibe. It's just having it yanked from the fans (and U.S.) that stings.

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7 comments
  • WFO

    10/3/2016 7:04 PM

    Moto has become so political. SX/MX/GP. Guy knows what I'm talking about. It could be So much better and allow a lot more opportunities for those that don't have it. There is So much Control, from the Sponsors, to the tracks to the owners. Follow the money. So far it's worked, but it sure in't like it used to be. The Big Boys make the money, the rest barely survive.

  • Erek_Kudla

    10/3/2016 12:02 PM

    For anyone that was there they know that the attendance was NOT 27,000... MAYBE 5,000

  • hillbilly 89052

    10/1/2016 10:03 AM

    GuyB,
    Thanks for speaking up on this subject.

  • tomm55x

    10/1/2016 5:43 AM

    This whole deal stinks horribly of corruption and if you cannot smell it you must be either looking the other way or plugging your nose. Youthstream is a poison that has been seeping it's way into the likes of professional MX for some time now obviously. What is not so obvious is that there is not only 1 organization but 2 allowed to profit from all of MXGP+MXON and that is Youthstream and the FIM. How is it possible that budds creek lost money when they hosted MXON? There was no room whatsoever in the whole facility. As the corruption continues the purity of MXGP will continue to decline. I hope that MXSPORTS can take note of this and keep American MX as awesome and true as it has ever been, to not be greedy and work in the shadows, but to keep our beloved sport pure, honest and dignified, catering to the rider's themselves, those who truly make this a great sport for us to watch. In my opinion Youthstream and the FIM are so corrupted that they will not make it back to being a dignified enity ever, in which all of European MX will suffer for it. That suffering and greed surely will reach us here in the USA as it already has with the cancelation of MXON at Glen Helen and probably countless other acts of which I do not know about . People have only been able to see the blurry line of right and wrong in the world we live in today, those that seek and state honesty, dignity, patience and truthfulness as not only virtues but a way of life see the line of what's right and wrong very clearly with no blurriness to be found, something that Youthstream and the FIM should try.

  • Wrench

    10/1/2016 10:58 AM

    I agree tomm! It's like no one is willing to admit that this is happening. American moto journalists act scared to put any of this to light, instead they give a vanilla response. Move along folks, nothing to see here is about all we have heard from anyone. Has this Luongo guy threatened our entire industry? Read the MX Action article on GP's. One of Luongo's henchmen literaly started a threat with "We don't mean to frighten you, but...."

    this article was 2010 and things have not gotten better- please read

    http://motocrossactionmag.com/more-stuff/jodys-box/whats-wrong-with-the-gps-the-2010-story-that-giuseppe-luongo-doesnt-want-you-to-read

  • GuyB

    10/1/2016 11:54 AM

    Huh. That's odd, I talked to someone from Glen Helen who was in Maggiora, and got nothing like that from them.

  • Uncle Tony

    9/30/2016 4:15 PM

    That was a good write up, jeez the Carlsbad U.S.G.P.took place in June but we wouldn't get to watch it till october

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