One of the many events that needed to be halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic was Supercross Futures, the series of events ran by Feld Entertainment to help bridge the gap between amateur racing and Monster Energy AMA Supercross on the professional level. Now as we head into the 2022 season, Supercross Futures is back with a new format. No longer will it be single day events in the stadiums following a Monster Energy Supercross race, there will be primary qualifiers at several local race facilities around the country for the opportunity to qualify for the premiere 250 Futures races inside the stadiums and during the actual race day for a professional Monster Energy Supercross event. With primary qualifiers already starting to kick off with the first one happening at 3 Palms MX Park in Texas two weeks ago and five more still to come in the coming month or so, we caught up with Monster Energy Supercross’ Senior Director of Operations, Mike Muye, to discuss the format change and what to expect moving forward.
Racer X: First off, let’s just start off by saying it’s great to have Supercross Futures back for 2022 after the halt in 2020 and having to sideline it for 2021. I’m sure you guys are just excited to have it back.
Mike Muye: Yeah, we really are. Obviously, we’ve been trying to get this back up and going here for a little while now. We’re excited to come back out with the 250 Futures class this year. We think we’re going to see a lot of success as we build into 2023 and expanding the property.
Tell me a little bit about the decision behind moving from what you had done in the past with the Futures to this new qualifying format with the premiere races as well. Why did you go down this path with Futures?
Really our goal with Futures has been and always will be to broaden the scope of supercross. So, by going to the qualifier model, it gives us the opportunity to have more localized races in the future so that people have the opportunity to compete on a supercross track even prior to getting into the stadium. The other added benefit is once you are in the stadium, we’ll be able to have a little more track time because of the number of competitors that are coming. So overall, we’re trying to create a better experience for the riders while exposing them still to supercross and the techniques that come with supercross.
2021-2022 Supercross Futures Schedule
|South Central||Primary||3 Palms MX Park, Conroe, TX||Saturday, October 9, 2021|
|Northeast||Primary||Doublin Gap MX, Shippensburg, PA||Saturday, October 23, 2021|
|West||Primary||FOX Raceway, Pala, CA||Saturday, October 30, 2021|
|South||Primary||WW Ranch, Jacksonville, FL||Sunday, October 31, 2021|
|Southwest||Primary||DT1 Motocross Park, Tulare, CA||Saturday, November 20, 2021|
|Southwest||Primary||Arizona Cycle Park, Buckeye, AZ||Wednesday, December 1, 2021|
|Northwest||Premiere||RingCentral Coliseum, Oakland, CA||Saturday, January 15, 2022|
|West||Premiere||Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA||Saturday, January 29, 2022|
|Southwest||Premiere||State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ||Saturday, February 5, 2022|
|South Central||Premiere||AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX||Saturday, February 26, 2022|
|South||Premiere||Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA||Saturday, April 16, 2022|
|Northeast||Premiere||Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA||Saturday, April 23, 2022|
|All||Supercross Futures AMA National Championship||Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT,||Saturday, May 7, 2022|
Now as far as I’ve read it as well, you have gone away from the “C class” guys being able to join in to just this 250 Futures class format, specifically for the day race within the stadium. Is that correct?
For 2022, we decided to focus heavily on the 250 Futures class. One of our goals long term is that we want to give riders making that next step to the 250SX class the opportunity to compete on a full scale supercross track. It’s been a request from a lot of the race teams, a lot of the riders coming up both past and present, that have made the suggestion that it would have been nice to actually race in a stadium. Because not only is the track different, as you well know, but there’s a lot of other things going on. You’ve got autograph sessions in the afternoon, you’ve got a lot of media around, of course the fans. So, it’s a whole different atmosphere that we want to expose them to. So really, we focused on the Futures class to get the series back up and going again and we plan to expand in 2023 where we are hosting all age and skill levels again under a similar qualifying format. We do want to expand that format. Currently this year, we have six primary qualifiers and six premiere races. I would like to see us get to eight premieres and 16 primary qualifiers. Again, it gives more access to people and more opportunity to race on a supercross track.
What kind of feedback have you had from these local facilities that you’re in touch with now to do these qualifying events? Are they excited to bring supercross to the local level as you were saying and have something that people across the country can get involved with?
Yeah, all of them have gotten behind it. We’ve got a good list of partners we’re working with at the local facilities. As I mentioned, we plan to expand it. This year we kind of had to crawl, walk, run, so we’ve done six. But there are a lot of great facilities out there that are really excited about hosting Supercross Futures events that we’re looking forward to working with in the future. We’re learning as much from them as, if anything, they’re learning from us. They know their local market, they know their facility, so we’re working hand in hand to make it the best experience for everybody as possible.
Now at these local qualifiers, are the tracks there maybe meant to be a little more tamed down like you had done with the Futures events in the past so that in qualifying they don’t have to race a full fledged supercross track? But then, in the stadiums, is it going to be a full fledged supercross like we see on Saturday nights?
Yeah, all of the tracks at the primaries are supercross inspired. They are close to what they’ll experience in the stadium. I don’t want to say they’re exact. They’re not built by Dirt Wurx and they’re not at that level. The expectation is that these riders, after qualifying, will afford themselves the opportunity to race on more supercross style tracks. On Saturday, they will race on the same track at the same times as the professionals. And that’s part of that progression, albeit accelerated in this circumstance. You start out on a track that kind of helps develop your skills and you progress to the larger tracks. But really, before they make that jump to the 250SX class where now you’re maybe lining up against a seasoned veteran, you’ve had the opportunity against your peers to race on that track. You’ve gotten the experience of stadium, the fans, everything else that’s going on in and around supercross. So, when you make that jump to race against a seasoned veteran, you kind of have a little bit of it behind you and in your head.
More on Supercross Futures
So, I know you talked a little bit about the manufacturers wanting this for their riders coming up to get a taste of it like you mentioned. What kind of feedback have you gotten from those first two years out of the manufacturers about how much this is helping their athletes to learn it and get the feel of being in a stadium and racing on a track like this before they do have to make that jump?
All of the feedback has been positive. This  was the next step towards that progression and we’re still waiting to hear the feedback obviously. We only have one primary event under our belt for this current year. But, by in large, everybody was in 100 percent support of what we’re trying to do.
Logistically, how many hurdles have you had to jump through, because you’re almost adding a whole other series to Monster Energy Supercross with this Futures program. You guys are going out there and getting your feet on the ground with these local tracks and then obviously bringing in newer athletes to these stadiums beforehand. Has it been more challenging or kind of how you expected it to work out so far?
Yeah, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging. Anything new is challenging. Getting the word out and explaining how the format works and the qualifying procedures is coming along and us sitting here talking about this is great because the more people that understand and have the ability to attend a primary in hopes of moving onto the premiere and eventually the AMA National Championship, the better. So, that’s really been where our focus is now is trying to get the word out and making sure people understand it. When we get on site, at that point, hopefully all of our ducks are in a row. It will operate like any other supercross event, and I think we’re all set there. It’s just this lead up that we’re really trying to get out in front of.
Tell me a little bit about the format of this new program as well. I think it’s four riders that qualify from the preliminary races into the premiere races. And then, how long are these races as well? How long on the track do they actually get to race against each other because I know the manufacturers like races longer than just like a four-lap sprint, for example.
So we are currently working on the formats to give these guys as much time as possible when they’re at the stadium. So, as of right now, we intend to have an eight minute plus one lap main event for them, two qualifying sessions of 10 minutes, and then, at minimum, one practice session of eight minutes. We’re trying to work in some additional from there. Really our goal, and I know I’ve said this a couple of times, but it’s to get them as much track time as possible because we want them to have that experience and to feel comfortable on the track prior to moving to that 250SX class. And even when their main event is on Saturday.
Now in relation to a Saturday event schedule for Supercross, is this all going to be ran in the morning before practice would start for the regular classes or are their races going to be closer to the actual night show and fans might be in the stadium to watch it all?
Yeah, there will be fans in the stadium. They’ll be in conjunction with the 250SX and 450SX classes throughout the day.
So, they’re going to have practices throughout the day with those guys and be able to see the track develop from practice into race format as well?
Correct, and that’s part of our goal too. We want them to work with their counterparts on their race teams. Talk about lines, talk about everything that you would if you were in the 250SX or 450SX class. They’re going to experience it in real time with their maybe more seasoned teammates.
You talked about wanting to expand and get to more prelims and more premiere races. What is the long-term goal? Do you want this to turn into a series where all of these athletes are competing maybe six or seven times a year within the supercross spectrum, or are you wanting to see more of what we do at Monster Cup where they have a big event that they all race each other? How do you foresee this going beyond 2023 and into 2024 and 2025?
The goal is going to be to have as many premiere events in the stadium as possible. Some markets were limited, you know, parking or any number of things. Weather, we’ve got to take that into account. Long term, we see it developing as it’s currently formatted but, in more areas, to give more access. But it all culminates, and it will always culminate into a national championship which this year will take place in Salt Lake City. We’re looking at other options and how to expand that as well. A lot of things have been thrown out on the table to try to get more track time and more of an experience. Whether that’s more days, more practices, more races, all of that is kind of TBD and in the long-term planning that we’d like to see.
Main Image: Talon Hawkins at a Supercross Futures event in 2020. | Photo by Feld Entertainment