Earlier this week we wrote about some possible changes to AMA Supercross in our 450 Words feature, including giving the points leaders the last pick on the gate for the main event and longer laps. We asked for your feedback and here's what we got:
I personally am all for making the mains take longer. I read an article by David Bailey recently where he was saying it used to be 20 min plus two laps. I’m all for something like that it just makes more sense to me to keep races relatively the same length instead of having a race last less than twenty minutes because lap times are in the 40 or 50 second range.
I would love it if they made the tracks laps reflect the length of it. When I was young and started watching sx the mains were like 25-30 minutes long. Bring back more tracks like A2 and mix up the designs quite a bit.
It would be nice to have a (standard) 20 minute +1 lap format for the 450’s and maybe 15 +1 for the 250s. That way it doesn’t matter what length the track is. Supercross spectators are savvy enough to figure it out.
I think you're reverse-order starting grid is a great idea. I do some Kart racing and alot of times they'll invert the field from qualifying to keep it more interesting. The bottom line is that the fast guys are still going to get to the front, but make it a little more exciting and watch them pass people.
For the sport to really grow mainstream (which isn't always good, see NASCAR) it needs to be more competitive. I love the sport and watch it every chance that I get because I just like watching guys that are faster than I could ever imagine being. But to the average observer, and this includes a lot of riders, there's not much exciting about watching Bubba, Chad and R.V. go out and win by 30 seconds.
I agree with your comments about making the mains longer. Another tidbit for thought that would make better racing for the entire main rather than just the first lap would be to use a NASCAR-like caution system. When there is a caution flag, slow the riders right down so they re-group and more or less start single file when the caution flag is removed. So what if this adds 10 minutes to the main and a few more laps—aren’t we trying to make a more marketable product that draws TV audience? I think it’s a lot more interesting watching a pack of riders battle for position, whether its first or fifteenth than it is to have the camera follow one rider all by themselves for the entire moto.
I agree with the current format of allowing the fastest or highest qualifier to have first pick on the gate but I am with you guys on more laps. Why not run the same format as in the outdoors or at Loretta Lynn's? How about just making 20 minutes plus two laps main events? Not only would it provide more action for the fans and more seat time for the riders but it would negate the sprint out and hide philosophy that we have in supercross.
Finally someone has said what I have been saying for years! These races need to be longer, and more consistent. Who cares how many laps they run? Why not do 20 minutes plus 2-laps for a main? I think they could come up with a good game plan to make it better. Those stadiums that have low 40-second lap times would benefit and get more bang for their buck.
Also, why do the Lites guys have to run less laps (or time)? In the outdoors, everybody runs the same… Why not indoors?
Why does the Supercross class continue to push only two riders out of the LCQ? Don't you think it is time to run things like the Lites class since the demise of the semi-qualifiers?
I actually suggested longer mains in a letter that was printed in Racer X several years ago. DC asked people for ideas to make SX safer and printed several of the letters in the magazine. I said longer mains to make endurance a bigger factor and also so there would be more time to work your way up without riding over your head. Also, I don't see the point of wasting an entire evening just to see one 10-minute and one 15-minute main. They should do two motos (mains) like the outdoor races and get rid of the qualifiers.
First, I am still PO’ed about the loss of the semis. If it’s all about the fans, were getting screwed. Losing the semi’s meant the loss of many great battles. I vote for 20 lap mains in the lites, 15 laps is just not enough I also think we should make the mains at least 25 laps for the supercross class, I mean 500 open class. The mains are way too short with 51 lap times.
The only riders I can forsee having a problem with the longer races might be the more out of shape guys. But then, chances are if those guys are not in good enough shape to go 25 laps, they are probably not in shape for 20 either.
As for giving the points leader the last gate pick, well, maybe do that with the top five in the points. I can’t see giving a guy that barely qualified for his first supercross the first gate pick. It would be nice to mix up the top five guys in the points though. Still the bottom line is this: The fastest guys are still going to be the fastest guys. Chances are Reed is still going to win. It would be nice to see him have to work for it a little more.
1.) The idea of putting the faster riders in the bad gates and the slower riders in the good gates is somewhat like putting the slow cars in front during rush hour traffic. It means a definite traffic jam and a lot of hot heads and likely a few fender benders. As much as the days of the metal fenders on your typical factory ride is somewhat 35 years ago, I think you get my point. There would likely be carnage with a large percentage of the riders in the 1st turn (as if the sport is not dangerous enough as it is). As all of the top riders have said in the past, a good start is the key to the race. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that some riders would chose to forgo a points lead to get a better gate pick and stay alive through the first turn.
2.) On the flip side, your idea of the extended laps for the shorter tracks is surely a great idea.
Everyone keeps wondering why racers are going for supercross only contracts, simple math tells you it’s easier. Two 30-min motos or one 15-min main..... duh! Make the SX class at least 25 laps and the Lites 20 and then we will see who is really fit and can handle it.
I don't really know that 25 laps is always gonna cut it. Why not do 25 + 2 Laps and 20 + 2 Laps minute motos for the Lites and SX class respectively. It would even it out the times between the short and long tracks. I have heard Chad and a few others saying they aren't even working up a sweat with the current setup. The lappers might be a bit worse, but they are terrible now, that comes down to the AMA enforcing the Blue/Yellow flag and penalizing riders if they don't obey.
The other major factor to be considered is the "cookie-cutter" track designs. They all seem to be relatively similar and riders have been commenting on this for years. Jump, jump, turn. Jump, jump, turn. Whoops, turn. Jump, jump, turn, etc. And SX tracks appear to be quite smooth compared to the outdoor nationals. SX would be much more exciting if the tracks not only changed significantly from one event to another, but also the tracks should be tougher than they are. This was quite evident during Anaheim ll (80's retro design) which was a much harder track than any of the current riders are used to. It's good for the fans! And it's been years since anyone on the podium being interviewed is dripping with sweat...
I agree with your comments on the race laps vs. time…. And even though you have nothing to do with it, why not make the pit areas open to all ticket holders? Trying to get pit passes here in Houston has become a joke. They make it harder and harder each year.
Rance Buss, CPA
Daytona still needs to bring Gary Bailey back to design the track, it was clearly better during the Bailey era.
Henry B. Thompson
These are my ideas to improve the SX racing format.
1.) LeMans style start from the back of the tunnel.
2.) 45-minute moto + 2 laps for 450cc main and 30-minute moto + 2 laps for 250cc main (sorry, the lites and supercross class designations suck!)
3.) More sand sections.
4.) Bring back the tunnel jump and track into the bleachers (as well as cigarette & beer sponsors)!
5,) Make the riders do their own wrenching (like ISDE - tires swaps, engine and suspension tuning). Too many of these wannabe rock starts probably don't know how to adjust a chain!
Okay, these ideas probably aren't conducive to the NASCARificaton of SX, but as an avid rider and racer I would sure dig it. Keep it twisted!