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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motocross on the Verge of a Breakthrough in United States

By Dirck Edge

Europe has always adored motorcycle racing. Huge crowds and huge popularity follow the sport year after year and event after event. This has never been the case in the United States. This appears about to change — at least for motocross.

The United States has seen a surge in the popularity of “extreme sports,” including skateboarding, BMX bicycle riding, in-line skating, etc. With ESPN’s “X-Games”, millions upon millions of kids (and now young adults) have become hooked on extreme sports, and, inevitably, clothing manufacturers and other companies have begun pouring millions of dollars into advertising and promotions related to these sports.

Motocross is slowly but surely emerging as the new star on the extreme sport stage. Not just traditional motocross, but supercross and freestyle as well. The big bucks are starting to support young, up-and-coming riders — another indication that major corporations are aware of this trend.

Young Travis Pastrana just signed a $200,000.00 contract with No Fear. No Fear is one of the largest clothing manufacturers sponsoring motocross and free style riders at this time. No Fear also lured freestyler Mike Metzger away from his clothing company, Warpt, with a reported $80,000.00 annual salary. No Fear is a smart and savvy company, and it wouldn’t be pouring this kind of money into these young kids’ pockets without a clear vision of where this sport is going in the United States.

Is Nike next? Nike, perhaps the largest and wealthiest sports clothing manufacturer in the world has gone into extreme sports sponsorship big time. Shortly after the emergence of the X-Games, Nike came out with some very slick advertising aimed at the extreme sports crowd, and began giving large sponsorship deals to skateboarders and BMX riders. When will Nike make its move into the world of motocross, and outspend everyone to sign the sport’s top riders (such as McGrath)?

The mixed feelings from old-time motocross fans, like the staff at Motorcycle Daily, come from the negative aspects of this huge increase in popularity. We can remember when going to an outdoor national meant easy access to every part of the track, the pits and the riders, because only a relatively small group of hard core fans showed up for these races. Those days are already long gone. The Glen Helen National in California this year saw a huge crowd, virtually no pit access (the token number of pit access passes were sold out very early), and difficulty in obtaining a spot against the fence to view the race. The “good old days” may be gone forever, and it may be for the overall good of the sport (and the wealth of its talented riders).

Is motorcycle roadracing the next big thing in American sports? It may well be, with the likes of Ben Bostrom and Nicky Haden leading the way. For now, however, motocross, supercross and freestyle MX are the motorcycle sports quickly rising in popularity and emerging in the mainstream media of America.