One of my favorite things about the powersports business is the great friends I’ve made over the years. The talented photographers, writers, racers and team members never cease to amaze me with the work they produce. I’m making an effort to spread the word about their work in this series so that my network can see their work.
In this post, I’d like to share an article in the Canadian motocross magazine Motocross Performance (MXP) by Krystyn Slack. Krystyn was the 1st-ever female photographer and writer to Cover all 29 AMA professional supercross and motocross races in a season. She did it in 2017. This particular article is a look behind the scenes at the wives of some of the top racers in the sport. She provides an interesting look at their family life and the week in and week out struggles of a professional motocross racing family.
Following the season finale in Las Vegas, the Monster Energy Supercross team put out a press release the wrapped up the series, congratulated the winners and set the stage for what was coming in 2019. The complete press release is below but I thought I would give you the highlights and what it means to the sport moving forward.
#1 – All 3 championships went down to the finale before being wrapped up. Although not as exciting as 2017, there was a noticeable buzz in Las Vegas. Would Anderson, Osborne, and Plessinger avoid catastrophe and earn the #1 plate? In the end, all 3 rode conservatively to take their championships. For Anderson and Husqvarna it was their first premier class supercross championship.
#2 – Attendance and viewership are at an all-time high. Nearly 1 million fans attended the Monster Energy Supercross Series events in 2018. Both rounds at Anaheim were sold out and 60,000 fans attended the Atlanta round in the New Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Feld Entertainment crew tested on track seating at 4 rounds in 2018 and based on that success, it will expand to 17 rounds in 2019. Feld also offered VIP experiences like track walk and opening ceremonies to fans looking for something extra. TV viewership was also up, five percent year-over-year, including a 27 percent rise among the coveted male 18-34 demographic, its best performance since FS1 launched. The Salt Lake City race on Saturday, April 28 counted 836,000 viewers, the most in Supercross history on FOX. Streaming on the FOX Sports GO app increased 68 percent year-over-year, while Race Day LIVE viewership grew by 700,000 viewers. In a powersports industry that is struggling to attract new riders, this 18-34 demographic increase is a sign we are moving in the right direction.
#3 – More Amateur Supercross Events in 2019. I have to admit, this one is both good and bad. In 2018, the series tested the return of Amateur Supercross. That number will double in 2019 but at the expense of the Amsoil Arenacross Series. The new Supercross Futures, an AMA Amateur National Championship, replaced the long-running arenacross series. While I believe this will allow for more riders to experience supercross, I worry that smaller markets that were typically served by the Arenacross series will now miss out on professional racing. I checked out one of the 2018 amateur supercross rounds and had a great time, the track was mellowed out a bit from Saturday night but the look and feel were the same as supercross.
#4 More Visibility. Working with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Supercross community started the “This Shirt Saves Lives” movement that has raised to date, a record $100,000. And finally who can forget the Gronk press conference? With this event, Monster Energy Supercross garnered more mainstream press this season than any other in the sport’s history, with coverage from national outlets like ESPN, Forbes, and E! News gaining more than 1 billion media impressions across every major sport and news outlet, further expanding the Monster Energy Supercross brand.
So there you have it, my take on the 2018 Supercross series. Let me know what you think.
Complete Feld Entertainment press release below.
New Era of Monster Energy Supercross Racing Ushers in First-Time Champions, Record-Setting Growth, and Introduction of Supercross Futures
ELLENTON, Fla. (May 9, 2018) – Upon crowning three new champions at an electrifying 2018 season finale in Las Vegas on May 5, Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, experienced a record-setting season of spectacular, edge-of-your-seat racing that resulted in impressive growth across live attendance, television viewership, digital engagement and international fandom for the most competitive and highest-profile off-road motorcycle racing championship in the world.
Following the retirement of four-time 450SX Class champion, Ryan Dungey, in 2017, the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season opened the door for a potential first-time premier-class champion to emerge. At the first round in Anaheim, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin, fresh off winning $1 million at the Monster Energy Cup in October 2017, landed his first win of the season and was off to an early point lead until an injury forced him to sit out at Round 2, where the chances for a championship from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson took off. Anderson captured his first of four wins at Round 2 and was the one to watch as he only finished outside of the top five twice in 17 races.
Meanwhile, one of the sport’s most buzzed-about athletes, Ken Roczen, became who fans envisioned to end up a first-time champion after making the greatest comeback in Supercross history, until his season-ending mix-up at Round 6. One of the league’s other biggest stars, Eli Tomac, racked up nearly twice as many wins, compared to any other athlete, through 17 races and also became the first-ever Monster Energy Supercross Triple Crown Champion. However, he was equally lauded by misfortune and tension on the track that took its eventual toll on his championship run.
The 2018 season would come down to the finale in Las Vegas for the 450SX Class and both regions of the 250SX Class and resulted in the most action-packed, must-watch moments in the sport’s recent history, and it didn’t take long for fans to catch on. This year achieved increases in live attendance, entertaining nearly 1 million fans with sellouts recorded at Anaheim 1 and 2 and a record-setting 60,000 fans at Atlanta’s brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Premium on-track seating aimed at attracting celebrities and fans craving unique experiences will continue to be expanded from four races to all 17 races and the Monster Energy Cup for the 2019 season.
Television viewership also increased five percent year-over-year, including a 27 percent rise among the coveted male 18-34 demographic and its best performance since FS1 launched. The Salt Lake City race on Saturday, April 28 counted 836,000 viewers, the most in Supercross history on FOX. Streaming on the FOX Sports GO app increased 68 percent year-over-year, while Race Day LIVE viewership grew by 700,000 viewers.
As Monster Energy Supercross continues to celebrate major milestones, the unveiling of Supercross Futures, an AMA Amateur National Championship, will transition AMSOIL Arenacross into the new Supercross Futures amateur events as we continue to improve the overall quality of Supercross. Building upon the success of 2018’s four Supercross Amateur Racing events, which averaged over 700 entries, the ground-breaking Supercross Futures concept will introduce eight amateur racing events in 2019 and provide greater access to the sport’s largest stage to further hone their skills on full-size Supercross tracks, while also allowing top amateur athletes to earn Road to Supercross points toward their professional AMA Supercross license.
“This season’s legendary battles on the track led to record growth across the board for Monster Energy Supercross,” noted Nicole Feld, Executive Vice President, Feld Entertainment, Inc. “From live attendance growth to our largest television audience in 2018, we look forward to driving even greater momentum in 2019 with our partners and athletes by producing an even better, even more, competitive stadium racing landscape.”
The first edition of Monster Energy Supercross, the official video game achieved rapid growth with 2.5 million interactions per week since its February 2018 launch. Digitally, the @SupercrossLIVE Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat social platforms added over 1 million new followers since January 2017. In its second year, the Supercross Video Pass aired in 134 countries around the globe, further expanding Supercross’ international audience, which encompasses more than half of the sports’ fanbase.
In terms of industry firsts for the brand, Monster Energy Supercross brought the Supercross community together with the “This Shirt Saves Lives” movement that raised a record $100,000 to date benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Additionally, Monster Energy Supercross garnered more mainstream press this season than any other in the sport’s history, with coverage from national outlets like ESPN, Forbes, and E! News. The Rob Gronkowski press conference in Foxborough was the largest activation in Supercross history and earned over 1 billion media impressions spanning every major sports and news outlet.
Tickets are currently on sale for the 2018 Monster Energy Cup. The full 2019 Monster Energy Supercross and Supercross Futures schedule will be announced on Tuesday, June 12, and 2019 tickets will be on-sale on Tuesday, October 16 with a pre-sale date of Monday, October 8. For more information on Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, log on to SupercrossLIVE.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross, or follow via social channels: Facebook: facebook.com/supercrosslive Twitter: twitter.com/supercrosslive Instagram: instagram.com/supercrosslive YouTube: youtube.com/supercrosslive
About Feld Entertainment Feld Entertainment® is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together. Properties include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Sesame Street Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit feldentertainment.com for more information.
About the American Motorcyclist Association: Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders’ interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit americanmotorcyclist.com.
In an announcement made public last week Suzuki Motor Corporation confirmed that they were pulling out of MXGP and All Japan Motocross activities. Now, this may come as a surprise to many but the rumor has been floating around out there the last couple of month.
With an all-new RMZ450 for 2018, this announcement seems to come at an odd time. For most OEM’s racing is a large portion of their marketing of the brand. Not only for the specific models but for the brand as a whole. In the old days “Win on Sunday and sell on Monday” was a common marketing plan to get the brand out there, with this action what kind of marketing effort will the OEM put on the new machine in the global market? Without a presence in international racing will they instead rely on the success of the newly announced JGR racing effort to market the machine?
The other question will be in the development of a new RMZ250 and the continued development of the RMZ450. Traditionally the MXGP and All Japan series both allowed for a manufacturer to test and develop new technology away from the United States racing restrictions.
Suzuki Motor Corporation did something very similar several years ago when they got out of MotoGP to allow themselves time to regroup and then return to competition.
I guess time will tell if this is a similar move or a step away from racing.
Read the complete Suzuki announcement below.
SUZUKI MOTOR CORPORATION – MXGP AND ALL JAPAN MX STATEMENT
Suzuki Motor Corporation has decided to suspend the FIM World MXGP Championship and All Japan Motocross activities from 2018.
Suzuki Motor Corporation, having reviewed its Motorcycle operations to focus on the core business functions and restructuring of our motorcycle business, concluded to suspend the MXGP activities from 2018.
Suzuki will continue to produce RM-Z250 and 450 series and support those customers the entire world.
Suzuki expresses its great appreciation to sponsors and fans around the world for their strong support to its activities. The company will continue to provide valued products for its customers by utilizing the experiences earned through the Racing activities.
In a press release announced on October 19th. After a long association with motocross clothing company, Thor. Multi-time and retired champion Ryan Villopoto has signed with Answer Racing. The move has raised some eyebrows within the sport as Villopoto was a Thor lifer having worn the brand during his entire professional career and from what I recall a good portion of his amateur career as well.
With the business of racing in mind, it seems as though Thor and their parent company Parts Unlimited (LeMans) no longer saw the value in keeping Villopoto around as an ambassador. So does this move hurt Thor in their overall sales? After all, they have Monster Cup Millionaire Marvin Musquin wearing their gear, perhaps it was time to cut ties with the old and focus on the new.
The real question is does the signing of Villopoto make you want to go out and get Answer gear? What is the current state of his fan base? The last time Villopoto competed in a US professional event was 2014 and his 2015 MXGP season didn’t go according to plan so you have to wonder at this decision by both Answer and Thor.
I guess the bigger question that deserves some attention is the use of retired racers as brand ambassadors. How long after they stop competing are they still relevant to the customer base. Does their on-track success matter as much as them personally?
I’m curious to know what you think and to see how this will play out.