nopiswimsuit_smallProgress requires compromise. Advancement requires sacrifice. These time-honored platitudes are ingrained in most of us from childhood. To reach any worthwhile goal you often have to give up things you hold dear. Achieving mainstream acceptance is a goal for the motocross community, and the pursuit of that goal has caused us to gradually give up more and more of what we once held to be inherent truths about our sport.

In her latest blog post Sarah Whitmore shares her distaste for the racier side of Supercross.

Speaking of Supercross I am getting a little annoyed at all of the “main event” board and “30 second” board girls. Not to mention every energy drink company is in some huge competition to see who can have the most scantily clad girls on display. Its bad enough when these girls are getting paid to dress like this but then there are fans walking around wearing less than what I wear to the beach.

As a twenty-something woman and one of the top female motocross racers in the country Sarah speaks with some authority on this issue. Unfortunately, she has made one flawed assumption – that Supercross is a family sport. It is not. I wish it were, but Supercross is our (the industry, the racers, the broader MX community) shot at hitting the big time. And because we are all slavishly in pursuit of that magical, mythical pinnacle of fame and fortune we have pretty much sacrificed any tie we had to our past legacy.

The racy aspect of Supercross is much more likely to increase than it is to regress to any family values approach. As I wrote a few weeks back regarding the Leticia Cline incident, hotties are a part of getting mainstreamed. Sex sells. In the 18-34 male demographic for which Supercross has been manufactured sex sells supremely. And selling is what LiveNation is all about.

There may be one, perhaps even two, people inside LiveNation who actually care about motocross and Supercross. They are likely the guys working directly in the sport, managing the ground-level operations. But let’s not make the mistake of thinking that there is any passion at all at the executive or Board levels. It’s about money. Period.

If you want to see one possible future for Supercross watch an episode of NOPI TunerVision, or go to a NOPI Nationals event. They have racing. It’s a backdrop to car shows, jello wrestling, soap suds dance orgies, and nearly-naked bikini contests. Not that I have a problem with any of these things. They just are. And if Sarah wants a glimpse of what her future may hold she can visit Sex is what the 18-34 male demographic wants. Action sports and sex. It sells. Welcome to the mainstream.

whitmore_face_06cp_2d3Sara Whitmore is a 23-year-old professional motocross racer. She finished 6th overall in the 2007 Womens Motocross Association national series. Now I don’t know what kind of image that brings to mind for the average chauvinist pig, but the WMA is no powder puff gig.

WMA races run in conjunction with the AMA Outdoor Motocross Series. The girls run the same tracks as the big boys, and typically run their races on Saturday around the AMA timed practice sessions. While none of them can threaten Carmichael, Stewart or Villopoto, the top WMA riders’ lap times would usually get them into the qualifying field for the AMA races on Sunday.

That’s impressive. But more impressive, at least to me, is that Sarah can also write. And write quite well. She’s been doing a monthly column in Racer X magazine for a while now. Recently she added a blog as part of the Racer X Blogs. She’s doing an excellent job, writing not just about races and racers but also about her life and interests and experiences off the track. It’s very cool to get insight into her struggles with bike maintenance, karate battles with her brothers, even life with her late grandmother. Through writing like this you begin to understand a person, gain insight into who they really are and what matters to them. You can almost feel as if you know them.

sarah_whitmore_action_2d07_2d3And Sarah seems like someone worth knowing. This is not a girl who backs down from anything. I admire that. Perhaps the nicest thing I can say is that if I had to pick a role model for my 17–year-old daughter, it would be Sarah Whitmore. Beyonce’? No way. Pink? You’ve got to be kidding. Hannah Montana? Give me a break. No sir, WMA National #4 is the girl I’d like my daughter to look up to.

Having said that, I have to give credit to Davey Coombs – editor of Racer X – for giving Sarah the incentive and the vehicle to test her talents. The Coombs family (Dave Sr, Rita, and Davey) has probably done more for the advancement of motocross in this country than any single group of individuals, including the AMA and LiveNation. What Davey has done in taking MX to the new world of media is simply phenomenal. He has figured out how to tap into the writing talents of not just Sarah but lots of riders. Granted, this is getting easier as the web has given young people more reason and practice for writing. But lots of it is awful and I’m continually impressed with the writing skills of the riders Davey taps for columns in his mag. Professional athletes are not known for their brains and it’s way cool to see some of our racers shattering that stereotype by taking to the keyboard with almost as much skill as they bring to the track.

Writing is hard work. Doing it regularly takes serious commitment. It’s no small feat to get these folks to give the time and energy required for these columns, much less the level of energy required to keep a blog fresh and interesting. (I know. I’ve had one since 2002 and I don’t do a very good job anymore.)

So stop by Sarah Smile and see what she’s up to. Drop her a comment and let her know you appreciate her taking the time to share her thoughts with us. Oh, and Sarah, keep up the good work.