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The High Cost Of Motocross Racing

by JohnNicholas on 06/15/2009

After reading the MXA Online article titled “NASCAR Race Teams take a Financial Hit, Could Motocross Teams Be Next” I decided to weigh in on the two stroke slant on the cost of motocross racing.

As stated in the MXA article “the motorcycle manufacturers have footed the whole bill for their racing efforts over the last 40 years.” This will not be the case in the coming years. In fact starting as early as 2010 we will see at least one if not more major manufacturers dropping their factory backed racing efforts.

This could create a change that could be very good for those of us that love two-strokes. Why?

It costs big bucks to field a four-stroke based race team. But the bikes are not the only cost incurred for a race team. Additionally there are the mechanics, trucks, team managers, truck drivers, racers and more that add into the cost equation.

Tremendous power but at what cost?

Rumor has it that it costs between $25,000. to $50,000. for a four-stroke race engine that is used for only one race day! And from some of the rumors, it is possible to blow a motor in practice, which raises the costs even more.

Of course this does not take into account the other disadvantages of racing four-strokes. The worst being the sound levels that threaten to shut down race tracks and riding areas all over the world.

Manufacturers are selling fewer motocross machines every year. The money for race teams comes from the sale of new machines and with bike sales dipping ever lower, the manufacturers will be forced to cut back the investments in their race teams. This will open the door for outside sponsorship of motocross race teams.

Why is this a good thing for us two-stroke supporters?

First the manufacturers were the ones that pressed the advantage of double displacement four-strokes. Sure it was a rule that was on the books for a while. In a way you can’t blame them. Sales of new motocross bikes had been flagging for years in the 1990?s and they viewed the four-stroke as an opportunity to increase sales. And for it worked for a while. But it was not to last.

Second with outside sponsors looking to get the biggest bang for their advertising dollars, there may be a shift in thinking and some pressure to change the rules.

The fans have said that they prefer two-strokes. They have been ignored.

Many of top racers prefer two-strokes as well. But they are paid by the manufacturers, they wouldn’t talk about what they like in print. Who could blame them? If you were getting paid big bucks would you kill your meal ticket?

Too many bikes sitting on the showroom floor.

We have heard first hand accounts of the manufacturers being unhappy with racers using older two-stokes and beating racers on their latest four-strokes they are attempting to sell to Joe Public. Of course if you did race a two-stroke, some manufacturers wouldn’t pay you contingency money.

Where does the money for the contingency prizes and race teams come from? The answer is….. everyday folks that buy new race bikes.

At one time a regular guy (or gal) could buy a new bike, race it for a year or two, sell it for a decent price and use that as a down payment on another new machine. With the uncertainty of the used four-stroke, this opportunity has all but disappeared.

But back to the idea about outside sponsorship and the possible increase of two-strokes.

We know first-hand of at least one team that had planned on competing in the 250F National class with two-strokes if the rule was approved for 2009. The sponsor realized that even if the team did not win or even finish in the top ten, that they would create a big fan base based on the fact that they were the “underdogs” racing on two strokes. Although from the fear expressed by some of the manufacturers, maybe they were afraid of being beat by the “technologically inferior” two-stroke.

I am still confused by this statement. How can something be technologically advanced if it has to be twice the displacement to compete?

Could the TM125 be an MX challenger?

For too many years the big four manufacturers and the AMA have called all the shots in pro racing. They basically pushed all outside manufacturers from being able to compete in “their” series. A change in rules allowing motocross bikes to compete with equal displacement and we could see some new race teams.

It would be great to see race teams on Maicos, TM’s, Gas Gas, Husqvarna and more competing in the US Nationals.

Over time this could lower costs for racing for all of us.

What are your thoughts?