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Growing Importance of Supercross Influencing Decisions About Reed and Stewart?

Yamaha recently announced that Chad Reed would miss the remainder of the AMA 250 Outdoor National Motocross series due to the need to remove “pins” from a hand that was repaired several years ago and recently re-injured (the pins have been in Reed’s hand since 1999). Meanwhile, Kawasaki announced that James Stewart suffered a practice crash this week that will result in his missing the next round of the AMA 250 Outdoor National Motocross series. Stewart suffered a bruised hip in the crash (the Kawasaki press release calls this a “severe hematoma”).

Despite the problem with the pins in his hand, Chad Reed participated in the Super Moto race at the X-Games last weekend. Yamaha explained that this was a decision based, in part, on the exposure Reed’s sponsors would receive during the event.

Long-time fans of the sport of motocross may be disappointed to learn that Outdoor Motocross simply is not as important to manufacturers as it used to be . . . at least, when these manufacturers compare the amount of publicity generated by supercross with outdoor motocross. When Jeremy McGrath negotiated his first “supercross-only” contract, nearly a decade ago, jaws dropped among motocross fans. It was almost considered sacrilege. The reality for McGrath and his team sponsors, however, was that his value as a supercross racer far outstripped his value as an outdoor motocross racer in terms of the amount of publicity generated. If anything, this differential has increased since that time.

Supercross is big business. Actually, supercross is huge business, and we may see more riders opting for contracts that require them to compete in supercross and not compete outdoors. The injuries Reed and Stewart are dealing with sound like the type of injuries that “old school” motocrossers (Bob Hannah and Jeff Ward come to mind) would continue to race with. Now that supercross offers a huge multiple of exposure for factory teams vs. outdoor motocross, are we seeing a change in attitude by manufacturers where riders who might otherwise race outdoor motocross are allowed to skip outdoor races so they are primed for next year’s supercross series? I think so.