Cooksey Straight To The Point: Tripping Over Money, Glen Helen vs. MX Sports 5

Duck and cover. Cooksey is stepping into the minefield.

Cooksey Straight To The Point: Tripping Over Money, Glen Helen vs. MX Sports

I had the pleasure of attending round two of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Fox Raceway last weekend. There is nothing like standing so close to the action that roost gets kicked into your face. Watching Supercross on TV or even live looking down from the stadiums, you don’t get to feel the power and speed. TV doesn’t capture elevation changes, the smells and vibrations felt when riders launch 100-plus feet and smash through braking bumps and ruts. The ruts are so deep, most of us would complain about poor track prep and go home. Attending an Outdoor National is something everyone should experience, which leads me to ask, why was the crowd so small?

Traditionally the Southern California round of motocross is held at the world-famous Glen Helen Raceway. This year because MX Sports (promoter) and Glen Helen couldn’t agree on terms, the race was relocated to Fox Raceway in Pala, CA. This track isn’t new to hosting a National as they hosted the season finales in 2010 and 2011. I didn’t attend either year, but I heard getting in and out of the track was a nightmare. This year everything was perfect, we got in and out faster than any other Supercross or National I have attended. The track conditions and weather couldn’t have been better, so why was fan turnout so poor? I have a few ideas….

I do not know the specific reasons Glen Helen and MX Sports could not come to terms. It seems to me like the  decision-makers need to step back and take a look at the big picture. When the race is held at the historic Glen Helen, facility attendance is usually approximately 20,000, according to my research. Let me be clear, I am NOT picking a side as to who is wrong. I hold both sides accountable. Glen Helen held a free practice with all proceeds going to the High Hopes Head Injury Foundation. I feel this was an attempt to keep people from attending the Pala National. I welcome any event that advances research into treating and preventing head injuries, but was disappointed it was being held on a day when most of the industry is required to attend the National at Pala.

Overview of Fox Raceway on Friday afternoon, before the fans arrived.

After researching attendance numbers, combined with ticket prices (not including parking/VIP tickets/camping/rider entry etc.) let me give you an idea of how much this feud cost. In 2018 Glen Helen (approximately 20,000 fans estimated at $35 ticket cost) generated $700,000. Pala had (approximately 10,000 fans) which dropped the revenue to $350,000. I am guessing both Glen Helen and MX Sports made more money in 2018. While the amount of money collected is  much higher than my projections; this is simply to show how much potential money both parties lost this weekend.   

While I embrace having two West Coast rounds, maybe the series could move out of the saturated Southern California area. The industry still has a strong presence in California, but other areas like Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona (northern) would welcome an Outdoor National. Utah had a race at Miller Motorsports Park but racing on a temporary track doesn’t have an authentic motocross appeal, so it’s not a good barometer. Amateur racing is still strong in these locations and by the time summer rolls around they are in prime riding season.

The last issue I have with attending the Pala National was the number of canopies lining the track. I like to float during the race, it’s 35 minutes and I want to watch from multiple locations. Why do people think if they put up a 10 x 10 canopy, they own that real estate? Yes, you deserve a spot under the canopy but if an open viewing area is available you cannot hold the entire area. Your canopy blocks the view of everyone behind you, least you can do is share the space. You cannot make you own VIP area because you bought a $35-dollar ticket, so did everyone else.     

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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