There was also a surprise from the AMA, as Brandy Richards, the first rider in the more than 100-year history of the International Six Days Enduro to win every single test in her class, was named the 2021 American Motorcyclist Association Motorcyclist of the Year. Over the course of six days, she won all 28 tests in Italy. She anchored the U.S. Women’s World Trophy Team win, which won the 2021 ISDE by more than 15 minutes over runner-up Great Britain.
“I never thought I’d be considered for [Motorcyclist of the Year] even after winning ISDE,” Richards said upon hearing the news. “It’s amazing that the AMA recognized me … and I’m shocked and grateful to be given this honor.”
Also from the AMA was the news that the 2022 schedule is out for the 41st Annual Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships—the Areas, the Regionals and the finale itself at Loretta Lynn’s (August 1-6). Read more right here.
Also, there are a few rule changes on the table that are up for public comments through December 24, which is next Friday, including limiting points-scoring ex-pros to just two age classes (Junior +25 and Masters +50) and mandatory longer motos at the Regionals. You can check them out here and weigh in with your comments.
So, no real supercross-related December surprises yet, thankfully, but there are still a couple weeks to go before we reach January. And once the series starts, there’s the possibility of a different kind of surprise….
Toward the end of the 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, an outbreak of COVID-19 derailed several riders and race teams, including Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin and Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki’s Max Anstie. Fortunately, it did not affect the championship in either class. The pandemic and associated travel restrictions/concerns also had the unfortunate consequence of basically preventing Team USA from attending the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in Italy. The hope was that the coronavirus would have run its course by the start of the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, which kicks off on January 8 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim (a round that, of course, didn’t happen in ’21 due to the same health concerns).
Unfortunately, a glance at this week’s mainstream sports headlines does not paint a positive picture as to where we’re in this ongoing epidemic. “The NFL now has had 75 player positives for COVID the past two days, per source,” tweeted Adam Schefter, ESPN’s football insider. “Brooklyn’s COVID-19 protocols list grows to seven, including James Harden,” said an ESPN.com headline concerning the NBA. “Odell Beckham Jr. among nine players placed on COVID-19 list by Los Angeles Rams,” was another headline. And finally, “NFL point spreads moving dramatically as sportsbooks deal with COVID-19 fallout.”
The weird thing is, when you watch the NFL or NBA or NHL, there’s usually not an empty seat in the grandstands, as stadiums and arenas are packed to the roofs with fans. If the same percentage of fans were suffering from COVID-19 as the players on the teams, a Brooklyn Nets basketball game would only have half the fans in the stands, because half of the actual team tested positive. Of course, the inconsistencies between the amount of players out and the amount fans in the stands is because players get tested practically every day, according to league protocols, while the fans do not.
With the start of the season rapidly approaching, we’re sure the people at Feld Entertainment have been working nonstop to set up as many safety protocols and policies as possible to get the 2022 series up and running, and to make it feel as normal as possible, just like it did at the start of 2020. But they will be testing the riders often, and the odds are that at some point in the championship COVID is going to show up in someone’s test and knock them out of a race or two. And just like we’re seeing in other sports, the show will almost certainly go on, and the fans will be there (though some may have to adjust their PulpMX and MotoXDream360 fantasy teams). It’s just the world we are still living in right now.
We’re about ten seasons into shooting annual Monster Energy/Racer X Supercross Season preview shows. We will shoot the 2022 shows next week, so episodes will roll out during the holidays and get you all the way to January 8 and Anaheim 1. We’ve got some cool ideas planned with some guests joining us for analysis, alongside myself, Steve Matthes, and Jason Thomas. I can’t believe we’ve been doing these things for ten years. We actually used to shoot them at our old friend Jason Hooper’s house in North Carolina, then we spent some years shooting them at Pro Circuit’s shop in California, but COVID-19 is making it hard to know who will be open when, so we’re using Steve Matthes’ PulpMX Studio in Las Vegas for now. Would be cool to get back to California for next year’s shows. Either way, get ready for epic bench racing as well as a way to get caught up on all the stories you might have missed through the off-season.
I’m a little bummed, though, as I went to ClubMX this week to watch some guys ride, but the great Justin Brayton was not there. Turns out JB had a big crash early this week and is going to need some time off. He will be back and ready for Anaheim, though. Test track crashes are always a scary prospect, and our man Phil Nicoletti gave his thoughts on it this week in his UnPhiltered question-and-answer column. Also, Phil complained about having to spend money on Christmas gifts. He thinks Christmas should not be about spending and just feeling the spirit. How convenient!
News is coming in hot and heavy. We had all these team photoshoots and such over the last week, and then Stark Future shocked the industry with its new electric bike, the VARG. I’ve now learned Stark means “strong” in Swedish, so consider the company name to be Strong Future. Will it have a strong future? I’m hearing many positive things about the company and the people behind it. There’s more to electric bikes than just making an electric bike. You’ve got to raise the startup money to seed a company from the ground up. But electric is very, very appealing as a startup, especially in motocross, which holds relatively short races. If the rider gets tired before the battery does, and charging doesn’t take too long, the problem is solved. That makes electric very appealing for this sport. I shared some thoughts on this on my own YouTube channel.