Huge cash injection kickstarts international supercross championship
When the American Motorcycling Association put on the first "Super Bowl of Motocross," at the LA Coliseum stadium in 1972, two disciplines of dirt bike racing began to diverge. Traditional motocross remains outdoors; it's long, tough, grueling, often remote and totally exposed to the weather, for riders and spectators alike. The better money's moved to supercross in recent years, with shorter, tighter, and more technical racing, all under lights at night, in easily-accessible stadiums in major cities. Fans can sit in their seats all night and see the whole track. It might not please the purists, but it feels like a modern spectator sport.
Supercross to this point has been as American as apple pie, and barring the odd Chad Reed, it's been dominated by American riders. A World Supercross Championship started up in 2003, but ended up merging back in with the AMA series by 2008. To win a "world championship," as endorsed by the FIM, racers have had to win in the USA.
No longer. Last year, Feld Motor Sports, which held the FIM license for supercross racing, declined to renew its international sanctioning agreement, citing COVID-19 as a reason to refocus as a domestic series. This license was pounced on by Australian company SX Global, led by Tony Cochrane, who's best known for bringing V8 Supercar racing to enormous popularity down under.
Today, SX Global has announced a monster financing deal with Mubadala Capital, the asset management arm of the Mubadala Investment Company, which controls a quarter of a trillion dollars worth of assets in connection with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
Any concerns that this series will be underfunded can thus be put to rest. SX Global is dangling some US$50 million dollars' worth of unprecedented carrots to get the best racers on board too: each of the 10 independently owned teams chosen will receive seed funding, appearance fees, logistics and freight support and a shot at a prize purse totaling $250,000 at each event – that's the biggest purse ever offered in supercross – on top of whatever they can bring in with sponsorships.
“There is a massive fanbase and untapped demand for supercross outside the United States and backed by the financial support and significant resource of Mubadala Capital, we intend to feed that, bringing the sport to new regions through the most exciting and lucrative World Championship series in the history of the sport,” said Tony Cochrane, President of SX Global. “We have created an entirely new model for supercross – one that emphasizes expanded financial support and opportunities for riders and teams, expanded opportunities for sponsorship and an elevated experience for fans.”
The group plans a "pilot" season for 2022, with five events running from September through to November, and things will expand to cover the period between June and November from 2023 onwards.
“Over the years, there have been various attempts to build a true World Championship series for supercross, but none of them have succeeded, due to deficiencies in funding and resource, lack of global and regional relationships and a variety of other factors,” said Adam Bailey, Managing Director, Motorsport, for SX Global. “Our team possesses the necessary supercross and international event background, relationships and expertise, and the funding to make this World Championship a reality.”
Source: SX Global