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Phoenix Supercross Reveals Disturbing Decision Regarding Red Flagging Races

We attended the Phoenix Supercross this weekend, and during the evening program, the AMA (and Pace?) simply refused to red flag two races despite seriously injured riders laying in the middle of the track early in each race.

During the 125 last chance qualifier, Christopher Gosselaar (Honda) was involved in a serious accident with another rider in the landing area of a triple jump. Although both riders lay virtually in the middle of the track in the landing zone of this jump, and the accident occurred during the first lap, the AMA chose not to stop the race and medical personnel had to attend to the downed riders with bikes passing just a few feet away from them.

A similar thing occurred during the 125 main event when Jason McCormick (Honda) crashed at the end of a whoop section (again, virtually in the middle of the track) and was unconscious for several laps. Again, although this occurred at the beginning of the main event, the AMA refused to stop the race and allowed the riders to ride through this section of the track a few feet away from McCormick’s body.

What is going on here? We’ve raised an issue about Supercross safety, and have a wide array of e-mail responses (which we will post this week), but this isn’t an issue of safety. Once you have a downed rider in the middle of the race track (particularly at the beginning of the race, but it really shouldn’t make a difference), medical personnel cannot do their job properly with motorcycles revving next to their ears. It undoubtedly reduces their ability to concentrate and to communicate with the rider effectively.

What if a rider is trying to tell a person attending to him something important about his physical condition, and he simply cannot be heard over the roar of the motorcycles racing by? What if medical personnel want to listen to an unconscious rider’s heartbeat or breathing pattern? It is one thing if the rider is obviously conscious, and the injury is isolated. It is quite another thing if the rider is unconscious, possibly suffering from a spinal cord injury (as was the case with at least two of the downed riders in Phoenix), and the race still is not stopped!

Obviously, the AMA and/or Pace (the promoter) has made a decision that “the show must go on”. One of the track announcers earlier in the evening, in making reference to another downed rider, had the insensitivity to refer to the riders as “bullet proof”. The announcers appear to have been trained to draw the crowds’ attention away from the injured riders, because throughout the evening program, the downed riders referred to above were rarely discussed by the track announcer after they initially went down – even though they were lying in the middle of the race track during most of the race.

Let’s face it, Supercross is becoming more of a “show” and less of a “sport”. For the sake of keeping the evening program on schedule, and avoiding any possible emphasis of the dangerous nature of this sport, the organizers of the Supercross races are jeopardizing injured riders.

If any of our readers saw these events at Phoenix, we would greatly appreciate hearing your reaction to these events with a short e-mail.