Over at Motocross Action Magazine Jody Wiesel is again raising the spectre of a 1-Moto format for the MX Nationals. In typical Wiesel style, Jody fires a shotgun blast in the general direction of something that has made him angry and answers some purported questions from a reader regarding the Glen Helen National. Here’s the relevant excerpt:
(3) Why did the [Glen Helen] race last into the evening? If I was a conspiracy theorist I’d say that the sanctioning body, which really wants to go to a one-moto format, was sabotaging the race program to make it look like the only way they could get through the day was if they went to one moto. However, not being a conspiracy theorist, I don’t believe that this is what they are doing. They have just bit off more than they can chew. The schedule needs to be streamlined. Everyone knew that it was too long and too prone to delays — almost everyone that is. I’d estimate that by the start of the second round of motos that half the crowd headed for the gates. That is not a rousing approval rating of your entertainment package or race schedule.
There are only a handful of people in the world who know whether or not the sanctioning body wants to go to a one-moto format. Jody Weisel may or may not be one of those. The man has ridden a dirt bike most working days for more than 30 years, and has raced nearly every weekend. He’s been a pain in the side of the AMA for decades. He’s a promoter, a racer, a tenured motojournalist. Motocross Action has been a bible for motoheads since the ’70s. But Weisel is also a gonzo muckraker. So what does Weisel’s statement mean?
It might be a slam at the internet moto-boards, where lots of people with limited wattage and even smaller vocubularies hurl insults and conspiracy theories at each other instead of getting jobs.
It might be true. Weisel may know someone within the AMA Pro Racing/MX Sports organization who actually wants, really, one-moto MX Nationals. There could even be an interview or article buried in the Motocross Action archives that supports this, but I haven’t seen it.
The people at Daytona Motorsports/AMA Pro Racing don’t know anything about motocross, never have, so they could want all kinds of things that make no sense. But that’s why they put MX Sports in charge of the Nationals.
Davey Coombs of MX Sports has previously made public statements which indicate he has not completely ruled out the possibility of a one-moto format if it were necessary to get live TV or a better TV deal. But that does not equal “really wants to go to a one-moto format.”
It seems to me that, in either case, it’s much ado about nothing. The most popular road racing series in the world, World Superbike (WSBK), has a two-race format. They don’t seem to have trouble getting fans to understand the race, or getting good TV time.
The current (new) TV deal for the MX Nationals is outstanding. Getting highlights of the first moto and coverage (either live or same day) of the second moto is damned good. Can’t imagine that going to a 1-moto format is going to enhance the show in any way that’s going to get more viewers. Seriously, anyone too stupid to understand a two-race format is highly unlikely to become a viewer anyway.
If anything, the scoring system needs to be rethought. AMA Pro Racing issued a competition bulletin last week to clarify how overall event scores are calculated, and MXA posted another article on why the current system is wrong.
WSBK has a point system almost identical to MX and it seems to work for them. I don’t think anyone argues with the points system. It’s the overall event “winner” that is at issue. I don’t know how, or if, WSBK deals with this overall winner concept, but it’s a tradition in MX that needs to be more straightforward.
So instead of 1-moto Nationals, just create one-winner Nationals. Separate chanpionship points from event scores. Have one podium ceremony at the end of the day. Award the event trophy to the guys with the lowest scores on the day, based on moto positions.
Leave the college algebra for the post-race analysis and give the fans a simple, clear winner. Better yet, add some bonus points for winning a national. NASCAR adds bonus points for all kinds of things (like being the wealthiest team owner, having the biggest sponsor, etc.) Make winning the overall matter in the Championship chase. Not a lot, but some — say 5 points for the win, 3 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd.
I know that is counter to the “both races are equal” ideal, but not by much. And it would really help clarify and enhance the event winner. Make winning a National matter. Motocross is a participant sport and the National Championships should, as much as possible, mirror the races in which we all participate.