@PING

@PING is brought to you by Troy Lee Designs, Eks Brand, VP Racing Fuels, and SKDA.

Ping, 

I am sure this subject has been beaten to death, but do you think Supercross tracks have become too difficult? We all know that Supercross is inherently dangerous, but has it gone too far? It does not seem to be in anyone’s best interest to have Supercross turn into “last man standing”. It must be very hard for sponsors to spend large amounts of money on a rider or team only to see their investment standing on the sideline. I am lucky to live in Vegas and have gone to all the Supercross and Monster Energy Cup races. Would taming the tracks down to something like Monster Energy Cup produce safer and closer racing? 

Mark Hite

Photo

Mark,

I have a different opinion on this one. Unless we want to water the tracks down to where they look like a TT race, which would not be entertaining to fans, we have to look at what is getting riders hurt. The simple answer is that supercross is gnarly; you ARE going to get hurt along the way, so there’s that. But the most significant factor is speed. There are myriad studies on the topic and I’ve studied plenty of them during paramedic school, but I’ll share one that I find applicable to our sport. The conclusion of the nacto.org study on the matter concluded with this: “This study explored the relationship between speed and the risk of being killed [or severely injured]. The data points show that risk increases slowly until impact speeds of around 30mph. Above this speed, risk increases rapidly- The increase is between 3.5 and 5.5 times higher from 30 mph to 40 mph.”

Keep in mind this study was focused on fatalities and life-threatening injuries, and those speeds are reached regularly in supercross. Track builders should not be focused on making tracks easier or “less technical,” but rather, slower. With more technical sections, bigger whoops, tighter turns, and obstacles that aren’t flattened out and high-speed you’ll see the severity of injury reduced. We’ll never keep all the riders safe, but we can minimize how badly they get hurt. 

- PING


David,

Long time no write. Love what you’re doing and what you contribute to the motoverse. May the BRAAAP be with you. I have lots of questions after 6 rounds of this awesome supercross season. Any chance that the guys running the show ever take some advice and try to make the track (or more specifically lap times) longer? With a 20 min + 1 format these guys have to hit their marks perfectly in the racing line for around 30 laps. Everyone seems to be in the same racing line and even the lappers don’t want to leave it for fear of leaving precious tenths on the on-off-table-to-quad-triple section. More laps equal more conflicts with lappers too. On that note, have the track designers ever heard of a chicane? Turns other than 90’s or 180’s? Or is their goal to keep riders going straight and airborne through rhythm lanes (that modern bikes don’t even struggle to quadruple through) so that the dirt and tires don’t experience hardly any wear and tear? Side by side rhythm lanes to 180’s to another rhythm lane seems to make the tracks even more one lined and don’t really create much opportunity for passing. Would more turns with wide entries, turn combos, turns that decrease in radius, some elevation changes, and maybe an off camber or two create slower speeds, longer lap times, more lines, and more passing? I’m not saying we bring back the track up the coliseum stairs or the infamous water section, but what should they do to get more racing variety and longer lap times? Do the track designs play a part in the lapper vs leader warfare we’re seeing?

Thanks,
2wheelKam in SLC

Photo

2wheelKam,

Thanks for the kind words. I agree that lap times need to be longer and something needs to be done about lappers. Chicanes don’t work; they funnel everybody into one line and smear the field out, which is the opposite of what we want to happen. Actually, 180 degree turns, when built correctly, are the best chance for riders to set up a pass. Here it is again, in case you missed it in the first question: We need more technical tracks. Steeper jumps, bigger whoops, more variety in obstacles would keep riders focused and challenged. Speed is the enemy here, for both lap times and injuries. Go back and look at some tracks from the early 2000’s… you’ll be shocked at how steep obstacles were, how large the whoops were, and how creative they used to be. Anaheim in 1996 had a set of whoops that went around a massive sweeper! I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I’ve seen that. It is definitely time for the track builders to get creative and stop treating riders with kid gloves. They’re making the tracks so fast that when riders go down, they are moving at high speeds and getting hurt. Slow it down! And get some in-helmet communications going so that riders can be warned of downed riders or issues on the track in real-time. 

Cheers
- PING

Do you have burning questions that need answering? E-mail Ping at ping@vitalmx.com. Want more? Click the @PING tag below to quickly find all the previous columns.

Create New Tag
0 comments
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment