So Chad Reed is renowned for speaking his mind, and just before hanging up his boots as a professional racer, he’s made one more comment on a begging issue in supercross.
A special press conference was held prior to the weekend’s final round where reporters asked Reedy a number of questions on his career and where to next, but the best and most interesting question came from the greatest of all time, Ricky Carmichael, and this is what he answered with.
“If there was one thing - the biggest thing you would change right now to better the sport so everybody and athletes 20 years from now, racers can benefit from - just one thing, off the top of your head, what would it be?” Carmichael asked.
“Right now, probably because it’s a little more fresh and probably because I’ve been watching the telecasts and seeing Shane McElrath pointing out, seeing how soft the East Coast is, and seeing Jeremy Martin sitting out the last three races, I don’t know if that’s healthy for our sport right now,” Reed responded.
“I think names and high-quality individuals in the series is important. I do think that needs to be addressed.”
So the pointing out situation in the 250SX classes has caused many riders grief over the years, and it’s designed so that the best riders progress through to the premier 450SX class, and making it, well, the premier class.
This isn’t new in the series or in the sport of motocross, and in the MXGP World Championship, there’s an age limit in the MX2 category, which was increased to 23 years over recent seasons.
There’s no age limit in supercross for the 250SX classes, and the pointing out situation is a little more complex.
So the ruling, which was introduced in 2007, states:
“Riders earning at least 135 points in a nine-race season, 120 points in an eight-race season (there are nine 250SX races in 2017), or 105 points in a seven-race season, in three seasons of Lites [250SX] competition will be ineligible for the Supercross Lites Class.”
But there’s also additional rules for riders who score championship in the 250 class, and the ruling for them says:
“A rider who wins a Supercross Lites [250SX] Championship will be eligible to participate in the Supercross Lites class for a maximum of three years total regardless of what year he/she won the title.”
So if a 250SX rider wins the championship in their third year of supercross, they will be ineligible for the 250SX category regardless of points and won’t be able to defend their title.
The problem with this pointing out ruling is that some riders aren’t quite ready to step up to the premier class, and in the instance of this season and heading into 2021, there’s just hardly any seats available amongst factory teams in the 450SX class.
And as Reedy mentioned, Jeremy Martin is a good example of where this ruling simply doesn’t work. Sure, he’s been in the Lites class for some time now, but he hasn’t raced supercross for essentially two years and has just had six races to get back into the swing of things and prove himself.
Although with no rides available and an existing deal already in place for 2021 with Geico Honda, moving to the 450 class could spell the end of his career.
And that’s why he decided to sit out the last three races to ensure he still has a job in the sport on a quality team, and has the next 12 to 18 months to land himself a deal in the 450 division as many contracts expire next year.
Reed does a have a solution however, and it’s a rather interesting take considering his position.
“As an athlete, it does hurt me to say this, but I do think there needs to be some sort of salary cap in the Lites class, and I think that’s more important than capping them on how many years because everybody develops differently - yourself, myself, James, for instance - we were destined to get to the top as fast as we could.
"Not everybody has that luxury of fast-tracking and getting there. McElrath is really coming into his own, and to lose him - like, where he’s going to go? I don’t know where he’s going, and I don’t think there’s a quality race team in the 450 class for him.
"I think one more year - and I don’t care what his age is - I just think everyone develops differently, and I think one more year would make him a better rider, a better athlete, a better racer - all of those things - I think it would just make our series better.”
So a salary cap is a really interesting perspective on how to solve the problem of ensuring the best riders continue to move up to the premier class, and I can agree with Reedy on this one as it could be a solution.
It would mean riders can stay in the 250SX class for as long as they like, but if they want to make more money, then they have to mix it with the best in the premier 450SX category, and I believe that would be enough of an incentive to get riders progressing through.
But the issue with a salary cap is managing and enforcing it - at the moment, teams don’t really report to the AMA or Feld on how much they’re spending on riders, so that would call for a massive change in the industry, plus there’s the fact riders also get paid bonuses and majority are also racing Pro Motocross.
These are just some of the complicated factors to take into consideration, and perhaps a more simple solution is actually needed.