How To Fix The Motocross of Nations 21

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As Americans, we’re spoiled. We always expect our country’s team to win at the Motocross of Nations, and we’re rarely disappointed. However, we’re rarely disappointed because, under the current format, it’s not really a fair race anymore because each country has to send three really good racers, and many countries simply don’t have three racers at the elite level.

The USA is the largest dirt bike market in the world, by far, and much of that is due to our culture. Motocross, even in the current economy, is absolutely massive in the USA compared to any other country in the world.

Now, add to that the fact that we have a population of over 315 million people to draw from. For comparison’s sake, Italy has about 60 million people. France has about 65 million. The Netherlands – home of Jeffrey Herlings – only has about 17 million people. And Belgium – arguably the capital of European motocross – only has 11 million people.

It’s simply not a fair fight when the US team has literally a dozen guys in each class to choose between, all of whom would be competitive at the Motocross of Nations, and if we’ve learned anything over the years about Youthstream and the Motocross of Nations, we know that Youthstream has been trying to do anything they can to level the playing field and give other countries a chance to beat the USA, including the addition of a throw-away moto score years ago, and more recently the lifting of the age rule for the MXoN, allowing racers of any age to race in the MX2 (250cc) class.

And if you think they picked Lommel, Belgium, for the 2012 MXoN for any reason other than the fact that they figured it would make things tough on Team USA, you’re high. Most of the GP paddock lives within a half-hour of that track during the racing season, and we have no tracks like it in the USA.

“They try to find ways to make it better for them, and at the end, as long as they apply the rules fairly across the board, it’s the same rule for everybody, we just adapt to it,” says Team USA team manager and GP/Motocross des Nations legend Roger DeCoster. “For them, to their defense, they are a lot smaller countries. Belgium has 10 million people. We have 300 million. So it [the rule changes] makes for a more level playing field. There have been suggestions also that they make the des Nations ‘Europe against the US’, and maybe have 15 riders on both sides or something. Of course, that would be more even, but at the end, you go by the rules and you try to win. That’s what we do.”

And that US vs. Europe idea is really the one that would fix things. It’s been kicked around for over a decade, but it can be done, and it would make the event incredibly competitive, although it wouldn’t just be the US vs. Europe if it’s done right. To do it right, you could do the AMA racers vs. the FIM racers if you want, but with so many top racers coming to the USA, that wouldn’t really be that fair, either.

The best way to do it would be to make the event “USA vs. Europe vs. Rest Of World” where American racers race against racers from Europe, and then the “Rest Of World” team would include Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Japanese, etc.

Also, the MXoN rules as they sit are still loosely based on the old system where there were 125cc, a 250cc and a 500cc World Championships, so each country would send a racer for each class. Today, there aren’t three classes, but we still have MX1, MX2 and “Open” as the three classes at the Motocross of Nations, when in reality we only have two classes today: The 250cc (MX2) and 450cc (MX1) classes.

Understanding this, here is the first of two ideas about how a revamped Motocross of Nations could work:

Each team picks five racers in each class.
The 10 racers on each team line up and race two (or three) motos.
The score is tabulated and the champion region is crowned.

Or here is a second way a revamped Motocross of Nations could work:

Each team picks 10 racers in each class.
Similar to the current format, “USA” races “Rest of World” in moto one, then “Rest of World” races “Europe” in moto two, and then “USA” races “Europe” in the final moto (or some variation thereof).
The results are tabulated and the champion region is crowned.

Check out the list of racers we could have on each team and try to imagine how good it would be if the race were held this way in 2013:

USA 450:
Ryan Villopoto
Ryan Dungey
Justin Barcia
Trey Canard
James Stewart
Jake Weimer
Andrew Short
Broc Tickle
Mike Alessi
Josh Grant

USA 250:
Eli Tomac
Blake Baggett
Zach Osborne
Jeremy Martin
Justin Bogle
Jason Anderson
Cooper Webb
Kyle Cunningham
Will Hahn
Cole Seely

Europe 450:
Antonio Cairoli
Clement DeSalle
Ken de Dycker
Gautier Paulin
Kevin Strijbos
Tommy Searle
Dean Wilson
Max Nagl
Evgeny Bobryshev
Jeremy van Horebeek

Europe 250:
Ken Roczen
Marvin Musquin
Jeffrey Herlings
Jordi Tixier
Jose Butron
Christophe Charlier
Grant Coldenhoff
Jake Nicholls
Max Anstie
Alessandro Lupino

Rest Of World 450:
Tyla Rattray
Brett Metcalfe
Chad Reed
Tyler Medaglia
Jeremy Medaglia
Akira Narita
Gareth Swanepoel
Cody Cooper
Matt Moss
Jake Moss

Rest Of World 250:
Martin Davalos
Kaven Benoit
Dean Ferris
Luke Styke
Kale Makeham
Brock Winston
Ryan Marmont
Takeshi Katsuya
Dylan Long
Rhys Carter

Imagine this race. It could be the greatest thing in the history of motocross!

Now, the getting all of these guys to the same place with their equipment could be quite expensive, for sure, but I believe where there’s a will, there’s a way. It can be done, and obviously it gets easier if you cut each of those lists in half to have only five riders per class, per region, but regardless, this is the only way I can think of to level the playing field at this event.

If we could do it, all that leaves is the name of the event. It could stay the “Motocross of Nations” if it had to, but really only one of the teams would be a “nation”. However, they already changed the name once from “Motocross des Nations” to “Motocross of Nations”, so there’s no real reason why we can’t just use the Chamberlain Trophy for the new event, no matter what it’s called.

Who do we need to talk to in order to make this happen?

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21 comments
  • wired4speed

    9/4/2013 12:30 PM

    You could also have a USGP that doesn't conflict with the outdoor series and offers a substantial amount of purse money to entice US teams to enter the race. A 250/450 GP show case on the same day.

  • RyanD

    9/4/2013 9:03 AM

    First, basing your case on population makes no sense. Did you happen to check the population of Europe? It's about 730 million. Wouldn't that be unfair to the US or the rest of the world? Based on population, India and China should have the best teams.

    If the MXdN is considered the Olympics of Motocross, why should we change it? The Olympics don't have US vs. Europe vs. the World. Every country gets to represent itself. That's the beauty of it.

    I don't think the race needs fixing. What about it is broken? Was it unfair when we used to have our butts kicked in the 70's or when we have since then? Do you seriously think the "rest of the world" team would ever stand a chance? Seems like Australia has done pretty well on it's own.

    I do think it might be cool to have an "us vs. them" race, but we shouldn't change the tradition of this race for that format. Start a new race, and if there's enough money on the line (a huge purse for the winners, ala the ME Cup) I bet racers will find a way to show up.

    And, no offense, but if you think the ME Cup is more interesting than the "lost its legs" MXdN, that's great. You have learned something about yourself. You are a supercross fan, not a motocross fan.

  • BrownDogWilson

    9/4/2013 12:02 AM

    "If the USA wins, nobody cares?" That quite possibly is one of the more ignorant statements I've ever heard, even coming from you Cox. The European population may not care when we win over there, but what would expect them to do, cheer for being on the wrong end of another beat down on their turf? If memory serves me, I am pretty sure any of the MXDN's held on American soil, were very well represented by cheering Americans. Or maybe those thousands of people trying to get a glimpse of the podium all the while chanting USA were actors paid to act like they "cared." If we are the best in the world, then so be it. That is what competition is all about. Being the underdog has no pressure. They aren't supposed to win, but if they do it's time to party. But the pressure of defending a Championship year after is the feeling I think our top riders live for when they line up at the gate. Go ask the the Ryan's or The Man what they think about the underdog feeling. All it means is that the previous year they didn't win, and I know that never sits will with them. What's next? Villopoto is going to have give everybody a 45 second head start? It's RV Against Everybody! So Steve, if you like to be the Underdog, go cheer for another country, you won't be missed seeing how we Americans don't even care anyway. GO USA!

  • GIwasB4

    9/3/2013 9:59 PM

    Word Nerd

  • maefernandez

    9/3/2013 8:47 PM

    sorry about the "fair battle"

  • Nerd

    9/3/2013 8:31 PM

    You sure don't write like you're an American...

  • maefernandez

    9/3/2013 8:25 PM

    this is the most superb arrogant idea written from an american guy, im american, and this kind of idea is what makes such a rivalry between US and EUROPE, trying to give empathy to european riders with this conceited argument is not gonna give any improvment to mxon.

    the rules are equal to everybody in this race, it is how it is, the european have the fim, we have the ama, the fim has one of the greatest championships in the world, good enought to present a fear battle to the us with many riders from different countrys (as the same way AMA also have riders from different countrys winning in here)

    that's something real...

  • Xeno

    9/3/2013 7:24 PM

    Why doesn't Team USA handicap itself by promising to send the Rookie of the Year as one of the three team racers? The AMA pays for it because it's a reward to the best rookie.

  • Bogger

    9/3/2013 6:55 PM

    Make the US riders enter as teams from the states, ie. Dungey and the Martin boys representing Minnesota, Josh Grant, Mike Alessi and Blake (Bilbo) Baggett from California. (Wouldn't be much friction between Grant and Aless, I am sure.) Then we could have a lot more teams!

  • al the dirt bike guru

    9/3/2013 6:38 PM

    MX d N is a idea that has lost it's legs, I am much more interested in the Monster Cup.

  • frita

    9/3/2013 5:27 PM

    Can't believe people in the comments still don't understand the USA's poputation advantage. "Oh but China's population... blah"
    This may help; Population
    Culture = Bike sales = More riders = More fast riders

    For example, no country in the world could beat Australia at Aussie Rules Football right now. The clubs in other countries are tiny to non-existent regardless of their populations.

    How about a Continental trophey on the side? Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. It would obviously be between Europe and NA but good to see.

  • zookrider62!

    9/3/2013 4:28 PM

    It seems to be a struggle to get 3 riders to show up, 10? Good luck

  • Alan H.

    9/3/2013 3:17 PM

    Hello from New Zealand, a population of just 4.5million and over the years, at MXoN, NZ has pushed above it's weight. Same with Australia with their 15 million. I hear what you say but it's not about America. In Europe it's more about the fans who really get behind it. I was lucky enough to attend France's in 2011 and 68,000 fans turned out. Even with a media pass it was near impossible to get from A to B. A thought, is to drop the Open and have an Under 19s 125 Class - 2 strokes are live and well down-under. Not because they are cheap to maintain, they're fun to ride. Wouldn't suit some manufacturers though!
    Alan H. www.moto-media.net

  • comxer

    9/3/2013 2:55 PM

    Consider this... there were years when the entire USA team grew up within 10 miles of each other. I'm talking about Glover, Lechien, Johnson, Ward. They came from not just one state in the U.S. but in all likelihood, one county. The state of California alone could make up a team that by themselves could defeat a European team. The size of the U.S. population is just an excuse. One that wouldn't hold up to scrutiny.

  • Nerd

    9/3/2013 1:11 PM

    I think because that's just a race. It ceases to be about the best country or region and becomes about the best guy on a given day at a given track.

  • usafwx

    9/3/2013 10:33 AM

    Why not just a one rider format, one open class, 2 motos, each country sends their best rider.

  • Nerd

    9/3/2013 9:18 AM

    Well, it's population as well as culture difference. China's population is huge, but motocross is culturally insignificant there.

  • Zesiger 112

    9/3/2013 9:02 AM

    Just keep it how it is, Population is a good argument. but If the population actually made a difference then Japan would finish higher than they do. The simple fact is we are better.
    Maybe if Youthstream payed a purse at the races and put together an amateur program like Loretta's then maybe their field would grow and they could put together a three rider team in the future.

  • DBLMX.com

    9/3/2013 8:42 AM

    This kind of format would be pretty damn awesome.

  • steed 2.0

    9/3/2013 12:45 AM

    I like the Ryder Cup format USA (AMA) vs Europe (GP)
    Both teams are able to pick wildcard riders from the Rest Of World
    (team Europe can only pick Rest Of World riders who competing in the GP´s and vice versa)

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