Archive for FIM

FIM Speedway Grand Prix on HD Theater

Speedway actionLast night I had the chance to watch the Swedish FIM Speedway Grand Prix on HD Theatre. It was my first time to see a complete speedway event.

What a cool race — the speed, color, action. A very action-packed format with lots of four-man, four-lap heat races, everybody full-on sideways, diving in and out. Excellent racing.

I’ve been aware of speedway since I was a kid, and I remember Bruce Penhall’s World Championship runs in the early ’80s. Later Penhall partnered with the caricaturish Eric Estrada in the ’80s TV series CHiPs, when he replaced Larry Wilcox during the 1982 season.

That was kind of a big thing, having a motorcycle racer on a popular TV show. Sorta like when little Ricky Nelson grew up on Ozzy and Harriet and went on to become a popular singer. C’mon, you all remember “Garden Party“, right? Well, maybe not…

Back to the subject — Speedway. Never saw a full race, just pictures in magazines and the occasional video clip. But watching the whole event in HD on a big screen TV was quite the show. I have to say it’s a pretty ballsy thing. Some young Russian kid won the main event after the only American competitor fell out of the semi-finals with a flat rear tire (there were some big ruts in the surface of the temporary track.)

I’d love to see a big-time speedway race in person. I googled speedway racing and found that it’s popular mostly in the northeast and, of course, California. But there’s a little track not far from my old home in Atlanta — Rutledge Speedway in Rutledge, GA — that has a short track and TT races and is supposed to hold some speedway now and again. Wow, for 15 years I lived less than 50 miles from that track and never knew it existed.

If you’re lucky enough to get HD Theater via cable or satellite (I don’t) be sure to check the guide for upcoming FIM Speedway Grand Prix races. It’s a blast BTW, American Greg Hancock finished 4th overall in the 2009 Championships.

Youthstream announce new 125cc Euro Championship in 2010

The European embrace of lightweight, lower-cost two-strokes for motocross continues with this formal announcement of a 125cc European Championship that will run in concert with the FIM MX1/MX2 Championships in 2010.

According to the release, Youthstream President Giuseppe Luongo says the new series is designed to help young riders and their families reduce costs. It can’t be long until the US follows suit.

It makes a lot of sense to have a 125cc class as the entry level for the pro ranks. The 125cc Championships served a good purpose for many years. It’s time they came back.

FIM launches new website

Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM) has launched their new website. The old FIM site was rather poor. It was only useful for finding press releases, but it was not regularly updated. My expectations for the new site are low and I will probably still be disappointed. But it has video for highlights. That’s something…

Now you can add crappy content from MotocrossMX1.com to your Facebook page

Youthstream announces that effective immediately all the users of MotoCrossMX1.com and SuperMotoS1.com can post the contents, including news and photos, to their Facebook friends. Woohoo.

MotocrossMX1.com has some of the worst, most vapid motocross content on the planet. It’s a veritable black hole (and I don’t care what that moron John Wiley Price says, that’s not a racist statement) of useful news and comment.

Bah. Humbug.

Part 3 of History of World Motocross Championship sucks

This is pathetic. This History of World Motocross Championship series is a miserable excuse for a history of anything. I don’t know who runs MotoCrossMX1.com, but they should be ashamed to put anything like this up on the site. It’s an embarrassment.

History of the World Motocross Championship

Motocross MX1 is publishing a short series of articles on the History of World Motocross Championship. Part 1 of the series is up now. Parts 2-4 will be published in the next few weeks.

If they are as poor as Part 1 there isn’t much point in reading them. Not much history here — there are about 5 2-sentence paragraphs to cover the period from 1957-1972. Bummer.

Joel Robert story at MotocrossMX1.com

A short bio article on Joel Robert, with a few quotes from Joel, is over at MotocrossMX1.info. It’s a good recap of his phenomenal contribution to our sport.

MediaZone closes Moto channel

mediazone_noticeLast week I got email notification that MediaZone is closing their Moto Channel. This is a big disappointment to me, as I just signed up for a 1-year subscription when I watched the MXdN on live video.

MediaZone will refund my subscription fee on a pro-rated basis, but the money isn’t really the problem. I’m disappointed that what seemed to be a really good service for catching all the GPs has gone by the wayside.

I don’t know anything about what motivated the closure, and the email gave no reason. But if you read my post on The right broadcast model for motocross you know I think full length video on the web is the right way forward for MX.

I suspect MediaZone lost their agreement with YouthStream, or the licensing fees went way up, or maybe there just weren’t enough subscribers to pay the fees. I don’t know. But I do know it’s a loss.

Over on Eternal Two Stroke Derrick Harris is talking about the same topic in his post Which “M” is in?. Derrick points to this cool video highlight site for Australian Supercross.

Personally, I’m not happy with highlights. I want full race coverage. If not live, at least same day. And I’m willing to pay for it. Hopefully, MX Sports will be able to negotiate something along those lines in the near future. For now, we’ll have to get by on the oddly structured SPEED TV coverage.

The Battle for world domination: FIM vs. DMG

Two things of note this past week in the world of motocross (three, I guess, but I’m not all that interested in who hired Chad Reed — it was obvious someone would) – Youthstream opens U.S. office in southern California, and CycleNews publishes an interview with FIM president Vito Ippolito confirming the FIM’s intentions to grow a Supercross World championship (Cycle News Issue #32, Aug. 13, 2008, pg 7.)

Neither of these things is unexpected, but together they are an important warning — nature abhors a vacuum, particularly the vacuum created when the AMA sold off professional racing.

Under the AMA pro racing in every discipline except road race and SX was a goat rodeo and a national embarrassment. Getting out of the racing business was overwhelmingly the right thing to do. Selling most everything to Daytona Motorsports Group was the right choice. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t get some new and different problems in the bargain.

One problem is that Supercross is a sort of bastard stepchild, grandfathered under a very nearly perpetual contract to LiveNation, a company whose business is live event promotion. LiveNation produces nearly 30,000 events each year, ranging from monster trucks to rock concerts. The AMA still has significant interest in, and rules-making rights for, SX under this contract. Although there have been rumors that these rights might be sold off as well, it’s not clear that they will be. This has split the US motocross scene in two, with the AMA/LiveNation on one side and the new AMA Pro Racing’s MX Nationals on the other. There’s currently a big disconnect between the worlds of MX and SX, and there is no longer a single entity to represent the US in international discussions. The moves by Youthstream and Ippolito are opening volleys in the war to fill the gap in this new world.

In the same issue of Cycle News Henny Ray Abrams’ “Chicanery” column lays out a doomsday scenario. Abrams is a firebrand, a muckraker, a hyperbolic prophet of doom who is unhappy no matter what the AMA does. He’s excoriated Rob Dingman since he took the helm of the AMA. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, I like to read his stuff. In Abrams’ vision LiveNation/AMA/FIM expand the SX World Championship to the point it sucks so many dollars, riders, and dates from the US Nationals the series collapses. The relevant quote from Ippolito is this:

The FIM is interested in having events outside of North America. If we have a World Championship, it must be a real World Championship. We have to push in this direction, and LiveNation agrees that this is important. They understand and are very interested to help have rounds outside of North America.

Abrams is right about a lot of things. Add 4 or 5 dates to the SX series, throw in the extra travel time to Asia and Australia, and you could have a real conflict with current MX National dates. At the very least you create a really long season. Now consider the Youthstream move, which has the following stated goal:

Youthstream USA has been formed to expand Youthstream’s worldwide operations and bring world-class events to the USA and other markets. This includes future Motocross and SuperMoto Grand Prix events and the prestigious Red Bull Motocross of Nations.

Do we not have world-class events here already? Do we not have the fastest motocross and Supercross riders in the world? How many former World Champions come here to test their metal after winning the FIM’s European “World” Championship? Again, from Ippolito:

In the Supercross World Championship we have 90-percent American riders, and in the Motocross World Championship we have 90-percent European riders. The problem is, Where are the American riders in the World Motocross Championship? Where are the European riders in the World Supercross Championship? Are these World Championships, or not? In MotoGP and World Superbike it is more universal.

And that is the problem. There’s no incentive for American riders to go to Europe, especially since the world’s largest, fastest motocross market (that would be us for those of you keeping score) is not included. Bringing 1 or 2 GP rounds to North America is not likely to solve this problem. We’re Americans. We don’t like eating a different ethnic food every week. We don’t like dealing with customs and passports for a bunch of little countries when over here we would just call them states and be done with it. It’s all quite fun as a vacation, but as a lifestyle, or as a way to make a living, it grows tiresome.

To get a handle on this the FIM and Youthstream need a piece of the US market. They need a way to change the perception of the MX Nationals in the US and the World, and to bring the MX Nationals underneath the “World Championships” in a way that is palatable to US fans. That’s why they bid on the MX Nationals series. And that’s why it’s a good thing Rob Dingman didn’t sell it to them.

We are looking at the opening rounds of a battle for world domination. The old status quo, where both sides muddled around in their own way, is falling. The US is the battleground — LiveNation/AMA/FIM on one side, AMA Pro Racing/MXSports on the other. My guess is that a truce will be formed. If the FIM push too far they will lose. There is no historical evidence that a European-based motorsports championship can dominate an American market. AMA Pro Racing/MXSports know this. But it would also be very cool to have some GP rounds and big international races here. Both side know this, too.

What is likely is a growing chasm between SX and MX, with more and more riders choosing one or the other. Arenacross is an attempt to create a grassroots version of SX, and there is a lot of territory in the US where small, indoor facilities are very popular for large parts of the year. Lots of little mini riders are growing up practicing on small SX tracks. Sooner or later motocross will be forced to abandon its younger American sibling and go head-to-head for riders and fans. If it is to survive it must have dedicated resources across the business spectrum – not merely become a stepchild of larger, Supercross-focused organizations.

To this end, Dingman’s decision may ultimately prove to be the right one, but we’re likely to see a lot of bloodshed in the meantime.

FreecasterTV to show 2009 FIM MX GPs

b8fdeb69-fcc2-4012-9b0a-1d0e0f25ec2cI saw this announcement FIM Motocross and Supermoto Live Online in ’09 on RacerXIll.com today. I haven’t really kept up with the World GP scene and so wasn’t aware that freecaster.tv already have video highlights of all the GPs on online. According to the release:

The FIM Motocross World Championship promoter Youthstream and the online broadcaster Freecaster.tv have reached an important agreement to broadcast the series for free live and delayed on www.freecaster.tv from 2009.

There’s no press release on either the FIM or Youthstream web sites so I don’t know where it came from, but RacerX is a pretty reliable source.

There are a lot of changes in store for American MX in 2009 and beyond. It would be cool if a similar webcast arrangement was one of them.