How To Fix The Motocross of Nations
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:
Ken de Dycker
Jeremy van Horebeek
Rest Of World 450:
Rest Of World 250:
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?