Cooksey Straight To The Point: Snapping Necks and Cashing Checks 22

How long should 250 riders be allowed to stay in the class? Cooksey has an idea...

Cooksey Straight To The Point: Snapping Necks and Cashing Checks

The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross in New Jersey changed the lives of several 250 riders. Austin Forkner looked beyond disappointed. He wasn’t able to fight through his injuries and claim his first professional title, but Chase Sexton lost the most in New Jersey. His 250 SX eligibility is now limited to one more year (assuming he clinches in Vegas) with the win and potential championship. While it will be all smiles and celebrations in Vegas, his career path moving forward will be an uphill battle.

Austin Forkner and Rylee Jean Kirk.

The Current 250 Supercross rules allow Sexton one year to defend his title, then he is banished to the 450 class. I don’t think he will be ready to compete for podiums and wins in 2021. If riders aren’t a podium threat or title contender, jobs are slim. The 450 class is full of talented riders looking for regular employment. Justin Bogle, Dean Wilson, Malcom Stewart, Broc Tickle (when he returns), Justin Hill, Joey Savatgy, Cole Seely, Chad Reed, Benny Bloss, Josh Grant, Tyler Bowers, Adam Cianciarulo, and possibly Martin Davalos (1 point at Vegas and he points out under current rules) will all be looking for jobs in 2020. Who knows what the landscape will look like in 2021, but teams will be getting some serious talent for low prices. 

If Sexton comes back in 2020 and wins another championship, he will earn himself a quality job in 2021.  If he falters it might be the beginning of the end for Sexton’s professional career. Much like Wil Hahn, Broc Tickle or Justin Bogle, Sexton’s career would be more profitable if 250 eligibility was maintained for a few more years. While he begs for a ride in 2021, his fellow 250 competitors will be enjoying steady employment. Guys like RJ Hampshire, Colt Nichols and Justin Cooper will be making money and signing contracts for years to come. Sexton’s only hope is to establish himself as a superstar in 2020. Being completely honest, Forkner handed this championship to Sexton and he isn’t ready to compete in the big class.

Chase Sexton

I am not saying riders should take a dive or sit out to maintain eligibility, nor do I blame them if they do. Anything they do to keep getting paid to race dirt bikes is alright with me. It’s the system in place that needs changing. The idea of staying back starts in amateur racing as riders are rewarded throughout their amateur careers for not moving up. Take a look at the “B” class of any amateur national. Almost all the top “B” riders should have moved to the “A” class but stay down in hopes of having an advantage. It has become so ridiculous that factory teams have started scouting the “B” class as much if not more than the “A” class. In the past teams only needed to look at the “A” class, because that’s where all the talent was.

It’s up to the rule makers and promoters to fix this problem. The 250 class needs a six-year eligibility rule in order to advance riders into the 450 class. Similar to college sports eligibility, if this is truly a development class it would work perfectly. If not, then open up the class to everyone. If riders know they only have six years of eligibility they can plan their careers knowing when they need to prepare themselves for the 450 class. Riders would know exactly how many years of 250 eligibility they have and could plan accordingly. This would also prevent talented riders like Sexton from being forced into the big class before getting adequate experience. A six-year rule would keep opportunities available for developing talent and prevent guys from skirting the rules to stay in the development class their entire professional careers.

Alex Martin.

I have no doubt when they wrote the 250 eligibility rules they had good intentions. Competitors and teams learn to manipulate rules for their advantage. They’re racers, that’s what they do! Simplifying the rules will allow the 250 class to return to a true development class.

Below are some of the riders with far more experience than Sexton who will be snapping necks and cashing checks in the 250 class while he will be struggling against the the big boys:

Shane McElrath - 25 years old in August with 6 years of competition
Alex Martin - 29 years old with 10 years of competition
Kyle Peters - 26 years old with 8 years of competition
Christian Craig – 27 years old with 7 years of competition
RJ Hampshire – 23 years old with 5 years of competition
Colt Nichols – 25 years old with 5 years of competition
Mitchell Oldenburg – 24 years old with 7 years of competition

These riders are collecting salaries from factory teams while riders like Josh Osby, John Short, Lorenzo Locurcio, and Henry Miller will never get an opportunity to showcase their talent on factory equipment. I am not saying these guys will be superstars, but let’s find out. Change the eligibility rule and we can enjoy the 250 class as the development class it’s intended to be. 

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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