by JohnNicholas on 11/21/2009
2009 has been a monumental season for the MC Federation. Running any championship successfully is difficult at the best of times, to run four National standard championships in what is realistically a debut year is a mammoth task. Not only this, launching the federation to every club across the UK is the final piece in the jigsaw that will firmly place the MCF as a major contender to help direct the sport, clubs and competitors. And with the introduction of the Elite Youth League in 2010, club racing is about to get the shot in the arm it so desperately deserves. It’s not all about a National Motocross race series at the MCF!
The MCF have focused on making their motocross events something a little different, working tirelessly on making them events that leave you wanting more. Their basic concept is laying on more than just start gate to chequered flag race events by making the sport more appealing to the public in the hope that more new people will find an affiliation with the sport in some shape or form. These fresh new faces will help keep the sport alive, and the MCF doesn’t intend on letting them slip through their fingers.
The bold plan to take their four main championships; the Red Bull Pro Nationals, Red Bull Elite Youth Cup, Fuchs-Silkolene 2 Stroke British championship and ‘Girlracer’ Women’s Nationals and integrate them throughout the year has been a master stroke. Not only has the MCF had a real opportunity to experiment with race schedules and put the plans in place for a solid foundation to build national championship motocross going forward, it’s also been a hit with the fans and riders as so much effort both on and off the track has been put into the events.
At the six Red Bull Pro National rounds this year there has been an average gate attendance of 4,250, not at all to be sniffed at by any means, especially in its first year. A good percentage of that crowd have been people who have never been to a motocross event at all as the MCF and Red Bull made a conscience effort to target the public in and around the surrounding area to good success.
Of course getting them to come along to an alien sport is hard enough, making sure they like what they see when they do is another, and that is where the MCF have gone the extra mile to make sure the public go away buzzing about what they’ve just seen. No amount of promotion or marketing will make anything more popular or conscience to the public than when it’s spread by word of mouth. Motocross needs to compete with so many other things that people can now do with their recreational time and that’s why the racing itself needs to be just part of the package or the ‘big show’ as it were.
That’s why the Red Bull Pro Nationals have seen a real ‘festival’ atmosphere for just a £10 admission fee. There’s been Freestyle motocross, pumping sound systems, start grid rider interviews and multi rider autograph sessions. There’s been a giant TV screen, competition giveaways for the public and the Suzuki Motocross experience for those members of the public who want to have a go right there and then. Basically, there’s loads going on away from the bar banging racing out on the track and with more entertainment in the pipeline for next year’s Red Bull Pro Nationals, it will only add to the appeal for the general public.
The circuits certainly haven’t be overlooked either as the MCF have made sure the riders are catered for. With several ex-professional racers on the MCF staff they are aware of the importance of good track preparation, not only for the safety of the riders but also for the race fans as a well prepared track improves the chances of great racing. More often than not the circuits have generated plenty of racing lines for the riders to pass and the racing has been intense all year long.
Particularly at the Red Bull Pro nationals where the format of mixing the MX1 and MX2 classes together has proved a huge success. Having the best riders in the country all in the same race has given a ‘premiership’ feel to the series and regardless of what capacity machine the riders have been racing they have done exactly that – race!! Right from the outset when the series launched in beautiful spring sunshine at Landrake Motor Park on the 19th April through to the last round at Wakes Colne on the 13th September, the action on the track has given the paying public something to really rave about. Watching the likes of Jake Nicholls on his Red Bull KTM UK 250F take it to Carl Nunn on his MVR-D Suzuki 450 and James Noble on his big STR/Proppa.com Honda has definitely given this series a different edge to anything else in the UK.
And if the championship racing hasn’t been enough to get people excited the Proppa.com Van Slam race certainly delivered the goods. In their efforts to make motocross more appealing, the MCF introduced the race into their weekend programme where the top twenty qualifiers go through to an intense two lap dash championship race to win a brand new, all singing and dancing Volkswagen Van courtesy of Proppa.com. It was Carl Nunn who ended up driving away in it but not until after being involved in some brilliant battles, notably at Canada Heights and Landrake.
It was a stellar year for Nunn at the Red Bull Pro Nationals, not only did he win the Proppa.com Van Slam but he also was the first MX1 champion into the history books for the debut year of the series and it was thoroughly deserved. After quitting GP motocross to concentrate on the job at home and spend more time with his young family he fully justified his decision and proved he’s a worthy champion and great role model to the aspiring kids of the Red Bull Elite Youth Cup. The same can be said of James Noble who also felt he had taken his GP career as far as he could and decided to go the same route as Carl as the two of them squared up for the championship.
The battle for the Red Bull Pro National MX2 title went down to the wire and had everyone on the edge. It was so tight it went to a tie breaker as both DB Racing Honda’s Nev Bradshaw and Samsung Yamaha’s Wayne Smith gave it their all, but in the end it was Nev that took the title with more race wins in the year. It really was epic stuff that personified the year’s racing in all championships.
Time to bring in the next big thing!
The Red Bull Elite Youth Cup is designed to bring our country’s young talent through and nurture them into professional racers that one day will also be battling it out in the pro ranks, and this year it’s been clear to see the wheels are in full motion. Some of the talent in the youth classes have been exceptional and they have clearly benefited from being in and around the pros at the three rounds that integrated with the Pro Nationals. They have seen and tasted what’s it’s like to be involved with the bigger picture and thrived on it. Champions like Conrad Mewse in the 65cc and the Watson brothers of Ben and Nathan in the small and big wheeled class have all been getting the chance to rider better prepared circuits and get used to the media attention that will come their way as they progress with the career making the progression to a full time pro not such a daunting one.
Of course not every Red Bull Elite Youth Cup (RBEYC) rider will make the professional grade but the MCF is doing more than anyone to ensure that they have the best chance to do so by creating a series where they are very much the star attraction. It’s the extra little touches that have given the series a sense of professional motocross organisation but without ever losing sight of the family values and fun involved for both the riders and parents.
There’s always been a brilliant community spirit at the Red Bull Elite Youth Cup because the MCF have made a conscience effort to get all grades of rider involved. A fine example of that has been the Fox Boot Camp, a joint collaboration between Fox Racing Europe and the MCF where three riders from each event are selected to be in the running for a fully supported Fox sponsorship in 2010.
Usually the front runners would only be in a with a shout for sponsorship but the riders selected for the Fox boot camp are not solely selected on results but also on endeavour, style and personality and that opens it up to every rider in the field, in every class. There’s also be the holeshot awards for all of the RBEYC classes to give the kids something to shoot for, prizes from Fox, Talon, Goldentyre and subscription offers to Dirt Bike Rider and T+MX news have all contributed in giving something back to the riders and families.
It hasn’t only been the two Red Bull supported MCF championships that have given British motocross something to be proud of though, the Fuchs-Silkolene 2 Stroke championship has also flourished and provided some amazing bar banging action all year long proving that 2 Stroke motocross is still 100% alive and kicking. Once again the amateur riders and clubman that really keep the spirit of motocross alive have proved that there’s nothing quite like getting together for a weekend, racing off-road bikes and socialising between races. That’s not say there hasn’t been heated battles out on the track because there has been, in abundance, but in the end there can only be one champion in each class, and this year’s winners are there on merit and hard work.
In the Open Expert championship Mark Eastwood made it a hat-trick of titles at 39 years young proving that experience really does count. Jim Davies, an avid 125cc fan and like Eastwood a solid supporter of the series, finally lived his dream to become the 125cc British champion. If there was one rider in the Fuchs-Silkolene 2 stroke championship that dominated his class then it was Open Junior champion Ben Howard, winning all but the second round at Landrake. The 125 juniors went down to the wire and in the end it was Matthew Thomas that did enough to hold off a resurgent Luke Dean by just 12 points after Luke had been knocked back by a mid season injury.
2010 looks set to be a huge year for the MCF and British motocross as they put the all their championship eggs in one basket for an eight round series that really will have it all. The ‘Red Bull Pro Nationals’ will incorporate the Red Bull Elite Youth Cup and the 2 Stroke Championships over two day events that will take UK motocross to an even higher plain. Once again the circuits will be well groomed and branded but also adding to the colour and vibrancy they’ll be live music on Saturday night and throughout Sunday, FMX, giant TV screens, pumping sound systems with decent commentary, more prize money for riders, teams and mechanics – basically all the things that will give the Red Bull Pro Nationals even more of a festival feel and put our sport on the map with the general public and that has to be a good thing no matter which way you look at it.