This sport is awesome. We love it, and that’s why you’re here reading this website and that’s why we’re here running it. However, sometimes we forget exactly where the love comes from. It’s all just routine, another Anaheim, another great race, another block pass to discuss, another great day hanging on the fence at a national or debating an endless debate. Or, conversely, another day at the track, and that unmatched feeling of accomplishment when you’re done riding.
Let’s not forget the automatic advantages of dirt bikes, and the reasons they unlock so many awesome things. Let’s be Thankful for the things we forget to be thankful for.
10. Bikes can be shipped and raced anywhere: We just finished the annual off-season of international races, which is scheduled unique to any other motorsport. Nowhere else is racing as simple as crating up a bike, shipping it anywhere in the world, having a mechanic bolt a few pieces back together, and lining up. Heck, different rules in different series would never allow it anyway. Thus, Formula 1 doesn’t have an off-season barnstorming tour through America, and NASCAR doesn’t do fall events for money in the winter. They can’t for a multitude of reasons. For supercross, it’s so easy, we don’t even think about it.
9. Motocross of Nations: Take the concept from above and turn it to an even higher level. No other motorsport can offer an event like the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations, because the variations of tracks, rules and equipment would be too vast to create a level playing field. You simply couldn’t create a truly fair team race with the three best British drivers against the three best Italians and Americans. What kind of cars are they in? What kind of track? There are small discrepancies between AMA and FIM motocross, but not enough to prevent MXoN from looking like a proving ground. Motorsports as a team sport? An international one at that? Go find the parallel, anywhere.
8. The Connection: Motocross is one of the hardest sports to get into. You need a bike, gear, parts, and a place to ride. It’s probably 1,000 percent harder to go ride motocross than it is to buy a soccer ball and kick it around the backyard. And yet, few sports have such a connection from the top racers to the weekend warriors. Lots of people watch football but that doesn’t mean they play football as a hobby (outside of some backyard throwing sessions). Because of this connection from the podium to the fan who also rides, we have a better, deeper understanding of just how gnarly and impressive this sport is. Plus, even if you’re just racing your buddy for 17th at the local race, the feeling of racing on the edge is the same as Eli Tomac going after Ken Roczen for a win. And, speaking of that…
7. Man and Machine: The essence of this sport is that it’s a real sport! Anyone who has ever thrown a leg over knows the difference between the average Joe’s talent (yours), and the daring and skill of the best in the world. Bikes are important, yes, but we will always know this sport comes down to rider versus rider. But if you like the mechanical dance, as well, this sport also offers that extra bit of intrigue. It’s the best of both worlds, really.
6. Wins can’t be bought: Take the concept from above and also take it to a higher level. In the end, talent and hard work wins out in motocross, always.
5. Privateers: We all lament the plight of the privateer, but the facts are that a good rider can buy a bike at a dealership, make a few tweaks, and give it a go. They can even make supercross mains and national motos on those bikes! This is not happening in most racing elsewhere, and it gifts us a perfect dichotomy of haves and have nots. Within the very same paddock, you have tales of million-dollar budgets, serious goals and win at all costs (literally). Right down that same starting gate? The hilarious, rag-tag, happy go lucky privateer guys, making it work however they can. It’s at once dead serious and damned fun all at once.
4. LCQs: The final stamp of the privateer is the desperation tactics to get into that main event, and the fact that the sport allows just enough bumping and running to keep it exciting yet also between the lines. If you can’t figure out the appeal of a last-lap last-transfer LCQ duel between two privateer animals who will park their relatives to make a pass, then you don’t like sports.
3. Big Stars: I’ve always said that it’s hard to tell if this is the biggest small sport or the smallest big sport. This is not NFL sized and you can argue that even Eli Tomac is not a household name with most of America. Yet, the sport is big enough for the top riders to collect seven-figure paychecks, to become role models, to get custom gear and helmets and graphics, to be splashed all over websites like this, magazines like that, YouTube, TV, social, and more. They’re not full-fledged celebrities, but they’re absolute stars who can build an entire life around racing dirt bikes, instead of getting a real job during the week. We all look up to them, be it Bob Hannah or Roger De Coster in the 1970s, the cavalcade of stars of the '80s, Jeremy McGrath or Jeff Emig in the '90s, Reed/Stew/RC/The Ryans and on it goes. We know them and we wish we were them. That’s what any sport needs, and we’re thankful we have it.
2. Obstacles: Here, we get to see the differences! From whoop speed to jump combos to railing berms, line choice and more, motocross and supercross give visual cues that are lacking in so many other motorsports. It’s another element that makes this game more man than machine. Now it’s true that you get the same view from non-motorsports, as every major league baseball player has a different batting stance and style. But don’t forget the part below…
1. It looks cool: Perhaps the most underrated, underappreciated fact of all: a good rider riding well on a dirt bike looks... good! You can’t explain it, but you can certainly see it: the fluidity, the balance, the grace, the aggression, all wrapped in one (see Chase Sexton in main image above). There’s something so magical about controlling the uncontrollable while riding a dirt bike. Don’t take it for granted.