Jeff’s British Motocross Manifesto
Hello to you all involved in the British motocross community,
I hope you’re all doing okay and not climbing the walls at home too much in these difficult and strange times? Hopefully, you’re all putting the time to good use. Like catching up with friends and family you maybe otherwise wouldn’t if we were all doing our thing racing and riding motorbikes on a weekend and let’s be honest, DIY is never going to cut it against being out watching or ripping about on dirt bikes is it? Hang in there guys, hang in there!
Feature Image courtesy of Dave Rich
That said, I’ve been using my time to get all those little jobs around the house done I’ve been meaning to do for a while, catching up on films I’ve been meaning to watch for ages, listening to new music and appreciating more and more what a good life I lead and what I love. Obviously motocross is a huge influencing factor on my life and how I live it. It’s treated me very well with great memories, enabled me to travel out across the globe and meet some wonderful characters and people I’m now proud to call friends. So for those reasons alone, of course, amplified even more with the feeling I get from riding and watching motocross, makes me passionate about it. Passionate enough to care about its health, growth and be prosperity, just like I do with my family and friends.
So, I’ve also been using my time of late to finally get down my ideas and opinions of the sport in the UK and how to improve it…..and they are my opinions alone. I don’t expect everyone to agree with them. Some of you may have seen my most recent ‘Man in a Van’ episode on Dirt Hub where I posed some questions regarding the state of our sport, particularly at National level and that’s what I would like to concentrate on at the moment. After all, done right, it’s our national races that should promote motocross to a bigger, wider audience and if, done right, help the sport grow at grassroots, regional level.
Now, before I put ‘my manifesto’ out there for all to see I want to make a point. I’m not one for politics; I never have been and probably never will, especially when more often than not greed, personal agenda and ego influences opinion. So there’s a degree of irony in me posting this because unfortunately, politics are unavoidable in discussing the progress of our sport in the UK. However, I really hope that the powers that be can try, and I mean really try, to put any personal interests or agenda aside enough and maybe swallow a bit of pride for the greater good of the sport and finally have an open, candid discussion to make it work better for all. Following my last episode of ‘Man in the Van’ I was contacted by a few people of high authority in some organisations and federations with some encouraging words, to which I thank them for, and I’m now going to follow up on their advice. Over the coming weeks I’m going to try and organise a meeting with chairmen, directors, national championship organisers, manufactures and industry brands to openly discuss the future of our sport. Starting by talking about all that is good and bad about it before working on ways on how to fix it and most importantly making it work the best it possibly can for all levels of rider. Hopefully, if we can pull this meeting together, we’ll come out of it with the sport already in a better place because at least a conversation would be had with people that can really make change, but to make change, you need to instigate it and actually want to do it before acting upon it.
With that in mind, as I sit here listening to ‘Gigaton’, the new album from my favourite band ‘Pearl Jam’ I’ve been inspired to put all this down in words (and not just thoughts in the privacy of my own head) and share them with you. So far I’m loving the new album. It’s the band I know and love and relate too, but different…..it’s evolution, and we need that with British motocross more than ever, or at least that’s the way it feels to me. Millions of years ago something unleashed our power of imagination….we learned to talk and so we evolved. So, let’s talk, let’s communicate and come together as one voice for our sport and community the best we can. It may all sound a bit dramatic to some of you, and that’s fine with me because we are all different behind the eyes and see things differently. I believe what my eyes see, and right now they see the sport I love in need of some tough love with some big decisions to be made.
It would be great to hear your opinions on our sport in the UK, no matter how big or small you think they are. So, if you are willing to make the time let’s hear them people! This is my rally cry to you! You never know, your opinion or idea might make a huge impact on our sport. Right, over to you guys, so without further ado, here’s my opinion and ideas for what they are worth. I’ve kept it to just 10 points for now. I could add more, but I’ve just written what I believe are 10 key points that could make a difference. Remember these are just points concentrating on National competition, not club or regional motocross. We can discuss that another time eh? There’s plenty to discuss there, arguably even more than national competition.
Thanks for your time and support folks. Again, stay safe and try to remain as upbeat as you can through these unprecedented, worrying times because one day soon we’ll be back in the great outdoors, with the sun shining down upon us, doing what we love but maybe with an even greater appreciation. #Come Together.
All the best,
‘Jeffro’s 10 point UK National MX Man-in-a-van-festo’
- All National series should be anywhere from 4 to 6 rounds, no more, no less. Quality over quantity. This will free up the stacked and diluted calendar and maybe allow more regional clubs to prosper with more riders. Ideally, there should be just one organisation/federation for motocross, but it’s not an ideal world and I think we’re too far gone to see that happen…unfortunately. So please, please, can all the organisations/federation get together once a year and give more consideration to the calendar and the number of national events being run.
- No National championships to start before April. Our climate is changing. Autumn is now milder, so let’s run on a bit more into October or even November if we have to. Less chance of cancelled meetings and more chance of pulling in a better crowd. Also a chance to support your regional club in those months and get some race time in before the nationals start.
- Supercross/ Arenacross – Is it time to get our top British riders both Adult and Youth racing this? I believe so. Forget who’s the promoter, or the federation for now, or any other politics. Let’s just get to the brass tacks of it, we need to promote the sport to be a bigger, more corporate audience and taking our sport indoors and into cities will do that better than anything else. Remember you can’t start racing SX or AX without learning to ride MX, so it very much supports the sport of MX. I don’t know how many people have gone to a SX in America and then bought a bike to start riding, but I’m willing to stick my neck on the block and say it’s more than went to an MX race and then got the bug. The same goes for potential corporate money from outside the sport. A team or rider will probably have more chance to get a financial sponsor if they raced indoors and that sponsor may just continue to support them outdoor. And don’t say it doesn’t work that way, because if it doesn’t why is there more money in Supercross in America than MX? In the UK we’d never be able to sustain a 3-4 month indoor series, mainly due to availability of venues, but for a couple of months, we could…if all the British riders and fans were behind it. British fans watching British riders. By starting the outdoor season later too it would make it more feasible for UK riders. Oh, by the way, I have already mentioned this to Matt Bates, the current promoter. He’s ready and open to further discussions on making it ‘more British’ and getting more people out to watch.
- Far better media required all round for all national championships. A decent highlights show that goes out with more in-depth knowledge about the sport, filmed, produced and edited by someone who knows how to shoot the sport at it’s best, not a production company with no real background in the sport. We’ve got brilliant UK videographers in the sport like Mikey Neale, Justin Chamberlain, Gary Price, Ty Kellett, Alex Rankin to name but a few that could all produce something great given the chance and resources. Time to speculate to accumulate on that.
- Don’t make it so difficult to cover the sport for the official media outlets. For example, do photographers and videographers really need to produce a certificate to say they’re okay to be around kids to stand on the infield of the track to work? When any member of the general public can be at an event taking pictures and video on their mobile phone with no media pass or certificates? If everyone could film/photograph the event and produce their own media for their own websites, surely that would get more people seeing it?
- Better local marketing and postering definitely required. More interaction with regional papers, radio and TV. Better road signage too. Again, it’s speculate to accumulate. Yes, it’s can be very time-intensive and frustrating (trust me, I know because I’ve done it) but it’s a job that needs to be done if we’re going to improve the sport and support the industry.
- Better hospitality at events. All of us there racing don’t necessarily need it, but for any paying customer new to the sport first impressions are everything. Every national event should have a ‘hospitality hub’. A communal marquee with all the food, drink and trade stalls around it. In that hub should be as much information on the event as possible. All the current series standings, information on the teams and riders (either written or on a TV screen as a video edit – ideally both), tables and bench seats to congregate and socialise….and a place to get in the shade on all the lovely sunny summer MX events! Improved PA systems too so the public can hear the commentary better and stay more informed.
- Have pro racing on the Saturday. Maybe then some people who want to watch the pros but who aren’t racing the series can go and ride and support their local club on the Sunday or ride their local practice track. They moved AMA Pro Motocross to Saturday, why not here? Seriously, what is there to lose in trying it?
- Youth Nationals – do we need to put so much emphasis and pressure on the smaller kids? It’s all got a bit serious and the costs involved are getting ridiculous for youth racing? Maybe we should just have a national championship competition from Big Wheeled 85cc upwards with the adults at recognised and established national championship like they do for the Dutch Masters. Then have Autos, 65cc, Small Wheeled 85cc and Women’s/Girls national championships run by individual clubs each hosting a round.
- Alternatively, to point #9 above, no national championship series for kids and we have one big event to decide who is the National champion for each organisation/federation with regional qualifying through the local clubs to support them? Something on the lines of Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals in America. I remember the ‘Champions of Champions’ events being full line ups of the best riders in the country when I was in my teens. Dare I say it; maybe even the top riders from each federation all come together at one annual event? I’d even put myself forward to organise that!