As with every off-season, there have been a lot of moving pieces going on behind the scenes. As everyone in the industry starts to ramp up for the 2023 racing seasons worldwide, pieces of the respective championship puzzles are starting to fall into place and become public information. Here is a recap of some of the key happenings so far after a rather busy week.
1. Loretta Lynn Passed Away
This is the saddest news of the week, as on Tuesday morning we learned that country music singer Loretta Lynn had passed away in her sleep. In 1982, Lynn shared her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, with Dave Coombs Sr. for the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, and the motocross community and industry has returned every year since—even this August after flooding in late August, 2021, took a toll on the property. Last year, Lynn was admitted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and became the first person to be inducted into both the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The entire motocross industry and those who have raced at The Ranch know how much of an impact she has had on our sport.
Davey Coombs, Racer X Illustrated editor-in-chief and MX Sports Pro Racing president, said the following on Instagram:
“Motocross lost an amazing friend and the whole world lost an amazing talent when Loretta Lynn passed away peacefully last night. She was 90 years old. The Coal Miner’s Daughter first opened her ranch to my dad to build a track in 1982, and @lorettalynnmx has hosted the AMA Amateur National Championship ever since. Pretty much every top @supercrosslive and @promotocross racer ever since has raced at her ranch. Godspeed, Loretta, and thank you.”
Lynn’s grandson, Anthony Brutto, has been managing the Ranch for the last several years and Coombs confirmed the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship will race there for many years to come, in honor of Lynn.
Godspeed, Loretta Lynn.
2. New Team, Who Dis?
The weekend started off on Saturday, October 1, (the first day of new contract season) with Dean Wilson announcing his new deal with Fire Power Parts Honda Racing for 2023. Wilson is set to debut with the Honda squad this weekend at the first round of the all-new FIM Supercross World Championship, followed by racing the Australian Supercross Championship, set to begin in late October. Then, Wilson will race the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship in a supercross-only deal. Yarrive Konsky’s Austrailian-based team is titled Honda Genuine Honda Racing for WSX and will be called the Fire Power Parts Honda Racing team in the U.S. and down under in Australia. While Wilson thanked O’Neal on Instagram with the move to the Fly Racing-backed Fire Power Parts Honda Racing team, it appears the #15 will retain some sort of Rockstar Energy support as he continues to run the golden star on his new helmet. Check out his first vlog with the new squad.
Amid a busy day on Tuesday, Christian Craig’s new deal was announced. The 2022 250SX West Region Champion thanked Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team for their hard work, and his not-so-secret new deals were finally made public around noon Eastern: he has a two-year deal with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna and will be head to toe in Fox Racing gear. Craig also revealed he is working with Aldon Baker, a clause that he wanted, and he said was also put in his contract. Listen to the podcast CC did with Steve Matthes earlier this week. Note: The podcast starts with Matthes on the phone with Craig, then Matthes talks with Larry Brooks around the 28:15 mark.
Speaking of Brooks, during the SuperMotocross press conference on Tuesday (which we will cover more in a minute), the Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki team announced the addition of Brooks as team manager. The former pro racer led the likes of Jeremy McGrath, Chad Reed and James Stewart to supercross championship, and has spent the last several years as the team manager of the Bar-X/Chaparral/Ecstar Suzuki team. Again, listen to the podcast Matthes did with Brooks (the Brooks interview starts around the 28:15 mark). Although not announced yet, the team is expected to race with three 450SX riders, one 250SX West Region rider, and one 250SX East Region rider in 2023. Brooks said Brandon Hartranft (450SX) is the only confirmed rider to the team at the moment, so we can expect the remaining roster announcements in the near future. The team is racing the WSX this weekend, so more news might come out about the team then.
Cianciarulo suffered a knee injury early in supercross that sidelined him for the remainder of the SX season and all of Pro Motocross. At the press conference on Tuesday, AC9 announced he has signed a two-year deal with Monster Energy Kawasaki for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The Florida native will enter his fourth year both with the squad and in the premier class.
Late Tuesday afternoon, we posted news that Seth Hammaker had shared to his social media page late on Monday night: he has signed a new deal with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki through the 2024 season. Hammaker made his professional debut in the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, and he earned his maiden professional win at the Arlington 1 Supercross—just his third professional start. He claimed fourth in the 250SX West Region standings and received the 2021 250SX Rookie of the Year award. The Pennsylvania native was banged up in supercross this year but put in a strong showing in Pro Motocross, finishing seventh in the 250 Class. Hammaker earned national number #35 for 2023.
Then, early Wednesday, Stilez Robertson’s deal for 2023 (like Craig, not a very quiet kept secret) was finally made public, as the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team announced the signing of the California native. The 2020 AMA Nicky Hayden Amateur Horizon Award winner confirmed his deal with BluCru is a two-year deal for 2023 and 2024. Robertson is not the first rider to be announced joining the squad for 2023, as Jordon Smith signed with the team back in June. Robertson will race as #40 in ’23.
Brown took to Instagram this week as well to announce he has re-signed with the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas Factory Racing team for 2023 and 2024. Brown raced his maiden pro race with the then Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM in 2019 at the Florida National, then turned pro full-time in 2020. Following the 2020 season, the team switched from KTM 250 SX-F machines to GasGas MC 250F models, thus becoming the factory GasGas U.S. squad. Brown finished third in the 2022 250SX East Region Championship, then tenth in the 250 Class of Pro Motocross—both career best finishes. After racing as national number #44 in 2022, Brown earned national number #33 next year.
A big piece of the silly season puzzle in the FIM Motocross World Championship (MXGP) dropped early this afternoon: Mitch Evans signed a deal with the Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP for the 2023 season. Evans raced alongside Tim Gajser at the Honda HRC MXGP team from 2020 through 2022, although a wrist injury sidelined him significantly during that time. For 2023, Evans will compete alongside 2015 MXGP Champion and 2021 runner-up Romain Febvre, who is back for his fourth-consecutive year with the team.
This news has yet to be confirmed via Nichols himself or Honda HRC but we will cover it anyways. Nichols was set to race a Yamaha YZ250F for the Rick Ware Racing (RWR) team in the pilot FIM World Supercross Championship starting this weekend but has pulled out of the pilot WSX season. We know how the relationship between Honda HRC and Ken Roczen was negatively impacted by the German native committing to the WSX, and it appears Nichols and crew working on a potential deal with Honda HRC for 2023 left him to pull out of WSX—which upset Rick Ware Racing. However, it has been confirmed Nichols is not racing WSX because he is not physically ready to compete at a high level, not because of a potential deal with HRC. There has yet to be an official announcement on Nichols joining HRC, but Matthes took to Twitter to explain the #45 was visiting the Honda team and talking about potentially racing for the team next year during AMA Supercross.
Apparently Colt Nichols was at the Honda track yesterday and will be on the team in 2023. He has pulled out of WSX— Steve Matthes (@pulpmx) October 4, 2022
3. 2023 AMA SX and MX Schedules, SMX Format
At Tuesday’s SuperMotocross press conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and SuperMotocross World Championship schedules were all announced, as were details on the purse and TV broadcast information.
Both Kenneth Feld, CEO and Chair of Feld Entertainment (promoters of Monster Energy AMA Supercross) and Carrie Coombs-Russell, CEO of MX Sports (promoters of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship) ensured to retain the history of the two separate sports, each providing #1 plates to their respective champions, but then the two would come together for the SuperMotocross playoffs to crown a third champion. This joint SuperMotocross World Championship will ensure the two promoting parties working together in the future, which will benefit all parties involved, especially with an emphasis on the new generation of amateur racers via the Scouting Moto Combines, the Supercross Futures programs, and the AMA Amateur National at Loretta Lynn's Ranch. Here are a few notes from Tuesday’s press conference:
New SuperMotocross logo, new website unveiled
The new SuperMotocross World Championship website: supermotocross.com.
Total number of races confirmed:
- 31 Total Races:
- 17 rounds of SX
- 11 rounds of MX
- 3 rounds of SMX
Our Kellen Brauer confirmed with vice president of supercross Dave Prater that the goal for 2024 and beyond is to have the entire SX, MX, and SMX season done by the end of September.
Just spoke with Dave Prater. He said that the goal moving forward is to have the whole series done no later than September 30. Just 2023 was unique since the Coliseum was only available mid-October due to USC football schedule— Kellen Brauer (@kellenbrauer) October 4, 2022
NBC Sports/Peacock package deal, $10 million grand total purse announced
- A five-year joint deal with NBC for SX and MX to be on their network and Peacock was announced.
BREAKING: Peacock will broadcast all 31 races of SX, MX, and SMX in a new five year agreement. This will extend to NBC, USA, and other NBC Sports networks throughout the year but all races will be streamed on Peacock— Kellen Brauer (@kellenbrauer) October 4, 2022
- Over $1 million will be added to the current purse in both SX and MX championships. Then $5.5 million will be up for grabs in the three SuperMotocross races, both in the purse at each race and a big-money points fund for the top 20 450 riders, and top 10 250 riders.
SMX Format explained:
- Top 20 racers in combined Supercross and Pro Motocross points will be automatically seeded into the three SuperMotocross World Championship events. Riders seeded 21st through 30th will compete for the final two gate positions at each round in a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) race.
- Additionally, any racer outside the top 30 in combined points who won a Supercross Main Event or a Pro Motocross Overall will also be given a chance to qualify for the 21st and 22nd positions at each round of the SuperMotocross World Championship. Racers entering the playoffs outside the top 20 will begin the playoffs with zero points.
- The SuperMotocross World Championship playoff races and final will operate under a two-moto format for both the 450cc class and 250cc class. Each moto will be 20 minutes, plus one lap, in which Olympic Scoring will determine an overall finishing position for which SMX points will be awarded. The SuperMotocross World Championship Final will also feature a SuperMotocross Amateur All-Star Race, with a single 10-minute plus one lap moto showcase featuring the world’s most high-profile amateur talent.
2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Schedule
- SupercrossAnaheim 2 (A2) 250SX West
Triple Crown + Supercross Futures + KTM Junior Supercross
Saturday, January 28
- SupercrossArlington 250SX East
Triple Crown + Supercross Futures + KTM Junior Supercross
Saturday, February 25
- SupercrossGlendale 250SX West
Triple Crown + Supercross Futures + KTM Junior Supercross
Saturday, April 8
- SupercrossEast Rutherford 250SX East/West Showdown
Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Showdown + Supercross Futures
Saturday, April 22
- SupercrossSalt Lake City 250SX East/West Showdown
Dave Coombs Sr. East/West Showdown + Supercross Futures Finale + KTM Junior Supercross
Saturday, May 13
2023 AMA Pro Motocross Championship Schedule
2023 SuperMotocross World Championship Schedule
Main image courtesy of Feld Motorsports