By all accounts, twice a week racing works.
The 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season ended on a high note this week after scheduling the final seven rounds over three weeks. Eli Tomac secured his first career 450 class Supercross Championship while Dylan Ferrandis and Chase Sexton each repeated as Champions in the 250 West and 250 East classes, respectively. The unprecedented stoppage from the coronavirus pandemic certainly tossed a wrench into the series as riders were unsure of whether to stay race ready, start testing for Outdoors or call it a year.
However, a silver lining eventually emerged once FELD announced it's not over along with plans to conclude the remaining rounds at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT every Sunday and Wednesday until finished from May 31 through June 21 to ensure a full 17-round season. Despite the lack of fans in the stands, the racing felt little different on TV from any other rounds and before you could catch your breath from yesterday's race you geared up for the next one just two or three days later.
In recent years, much discussion has ensued about the taxing length of the racing season as riders get little time off in between Supercross and Motocross. Plus, how much do we believe of the rumors that indicate a desire to lengthen the number of Supercross rounds with the Outdoors seemingly an afterthought. Even if these rumors prove simply rumors, let's run with it because a solution exists that provides fans more racing, preserves the Outdoors, gives riders extended time off and far less travel.
Hear this out.
The every Sunday and Wednesday racing worked for lots of people. Fans loved it and some riders enjoyed getting back behind the gate earlier rather than waiting another week. You can only test so much during the week. So why not keep the format?
This is not what you think.
Dump Sunday for the usual Saturday night racing but keep Wednesday with two races at one venue and afterwards a week off. For example, this year Anaheim 1 was raced on January 4. Therefore, race Anaheim 2 four days later on January 8th. Then give the riders a week off.
Resume racing for Round 3 on Wednesday January 15 at the next venue then race again on January 18 at the same venue. Take a week off, head to the next venue and race two more rounds. You get the idea. By the end of January, six rounds have been raced. Follow this format and you wrap up the Supercross season on April 1 with 18 rounds or April 11 with 20 rounds raced. Riders therefore get five to six weeks off before the Outdoors' regularly scheduled start in May instead of the usual two weeks.
And fans get twice a week racing!
Pros of Twice a Week Supercross Racing
This schedule of racing cuts the number of venues nearly in half, perhaps giving FELD a possible break on the pricing structure for holding two rounds back-to-back in one venue. But more importantly this revised schedule, while providing more racing, accomplishes the following:
- Reduces overall travel for the riders and possibly eliminates cross-country journeys from one venue to the next.
- Drastically cuts the cost of running a team and perhaps opens more factory spots
- Allows more privateers to compete for the whole season.
- Incentivizes riders to finish the Supercross season regardless of placement in the standings, rather than dialing back or dropping out to begin testing for the Nationals.
Cons of Twice a Week Supercross Racing
The limited venues indeed impacts the ability to reach every corner of the country, however, strategically finding the nine or 10 stadiums to race keeps the door open for fans, who normally turn out, to attend one or even both rounds scheduled in one place. Attendance would likely take a hit, especially on Wednesdays, but the cut in number of venues could encourage fans from out of the area to make the trip and perhaps even attend both rounds.
Twice a Week Supercross Racing Can Work
How about offer a reduced ticket package for attending both races in one venue? It's a win-win for all involved. Besides, stick and ball series regularly have night games during the week so having weekday racing would hardly constitute a novel idea in the realm of professional sports.
Check out this hypothetical schedule:
- Rounds 1 & 2 - Anaheim
- Rounds 3 & 4 - Arizona
- Rounds 5 & 6 - Dallas
- Rounds 7 & 8 - Florida
- Rounds 9 & 10 - Nashville
- Rounds 11 & 12 - Northeast
- Rounds 13 & 14 - Indianapolis
- Rounds 15 & 16 - Minnesota
- Rounds 17 & 18 - Salt Lake City
- Rounds 19 & 20 - Las Vegas
By the way, how many riders in recent years have knocked themselves out of the series because of a midweek practice crash?