After watching roadracing on television recently, and thinking about the growth of the sport of supercross and motocross here in the United States, I began to wonder how big these sports can get.
Just a few years ago (it seems), supercross and motocross (particularly, motocross) here in the United States was viewed by a relatively small number of fans. Even today, although the sport has grown tremendously, off-road racing in the United States captures a relatively small audience compared to major automobile racing events. But this could change, and it could change rather rapidly.
Motorcycle racing is simply more interesting. I know I come from a biased perspective, but the closeness of the racing and the frequency of passing is unlike anything you see in automobile racing (at least anything I have watched, lately). The pinnacle of automobile racing is Formula One. In Formula One, passing rarely occurs. This is due largely to the aerodynamics of the cars, coupled with the fact that the top qualifiers start from the front and quickly motor away from the competition (most passing is while lapping substantially slower machines).
Motorcycle roadracing, more often than not, involves a dog fight at the front. This is what interesting racing is all about. Even motocross and supercross involve more parity (leaving Ricky Carmichael’s dominance aside for a moment) and passing than many automobile events.
Moreover, motorcycle racers can be seen. Their bodies move and finesse their machines while in full view of the fans. The crashes are more spectacular, as well, and (let’s face it) many fans enjoy watching spectacular crashing (although, let’s hope they don’t like to see serious injuries).
I guess my point is this. Motorcycling deserves to be more popular than many forms of racing, including most automobile racing. Will it achieve this popularity? I think so, and perhaps soon. When it does, the number of motorcyclists will grow even faster (if the economy permits it) and a new image of motorcyclists will be firmly established in the minds of the public.