It’s almost time to kick off another Summer X Games, and this year it’s lucky number 13. All the usual moto events, like Freestyle and Step-Up are back, but this year the folks at ESPN have also added what they’re calling Moto X Racing, and guys like Ricky Carmichael have committed to be there in a few weeks to compete.
To learn more about the event, the racing format, and the track, we talked with ESPN’s Senior Director of Sports and Competition for X Games, Tim Reed…
TWMX: Hi Tim, thanks for taking some time to talk with us. Why don’t you start with a quick rundown of the schedule for this year’s Summer X Games…
TIM: X Games 13 will be at Home Depot Center and Staples Center, August 2nd through 5th. Staples Center is going to be the primary focus for the event on Thursday and Friday, and then all the action on Saturday and Sunday will be at Home Depot Center.
You guys have some new things in store for moto this year. What are your plans?
For moto we’re going to continue to do the four events we had last year, which is Step-Up, Best Trick, Freestyle, and Supermoto. We’re actually going to put Step-Up back in Staples Center like it was a couple years ago when McGrath and Buyten had their epic battle, and Best Trick will also be at Staples Center like it was last year. Freestyle and Supermoto will be at Home Depot Center. We’re also adding Moto X Racing, which is obviously inspired by motocross and supercross; it’s the biggest change in moto and we’re really excited about it.
And I understand you’ve had a pretty good response to Moto X Racing from riders?
Yeah, it’s been very good. We worked on this initially with some help and support from Ricky Carmichael. He was pretty instrumental in our figuring this out. Ricky played a key role from the beginning, just in terms of what he felt we needed to do with the event to make it successful. A lot of other big racers as well; James Stewart, Kevin Windham, and Chad Reed. Hopefully some of the younger guys, like Villopoto and Townley, will come as well. They’re all invited, and at this point we’re planning on them being there. We’ll be announcing the full list of riders in the next few days.
What role did Ricky play in all this; were you looking for his blessing or just his advice?
We were talking with some people that work with him, some folks from Fox. We’ve been trying to get Ricky to come for years to do Step-Up or maybe even Supermoto, but he was busy and focused on racing. So to get him to X Games it just made sense to have the event that he’s focused on. So from that standpoint, once we knew there was an interest in coming to X Games we went from there and started talking about the format and what the track should be like. Fortunately his vision was very similar to ours, so it worked out nicely.
Is it something that you would have done whether or not he signed on to it?
I don’t know. It’s one of those things that we would love to do anyways, but (having Ricky Carmichael involved) helped it along. With any event that we do, it’s our goal to attract the top atheletes.
What is the schedule for the moto events?
Best trick is Thursday night at Staples Center, Friday night is Step-Up at Staples Center, Saturday afternoon is Supermoto, and Saturday night is Freestyle and Moto X Racing.
Will Freestyle and Moto X Racing be going on at the same time?
The way it’s going to work is the Freestyle elimination round will go prior to Moto X Racing, and then once racing is done we’ll come back with the Freestyle finals. So on Saturday, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm Pacific time you’ll be able to see some great racing and great freestyle action. I think it’s great to bring motocross racing to X Games and to our audience; I think a lot of people will enjoy it.
What about the format of the race? I know it’s going to be different than what we’re used to seeing…
Probably the biggest difference is that the heats will be smaller in terms of number of racers, and the heat laps will be shorter, making it faster format.
So it’s four-man elimination races, is that right?
There are sixteen total athletes, two qualifying rounds, and a final. Round number one will be four heats of four riders, and the winner of each of those heats goes straight to a final. The three racers that didn’t qualify will go to the second round, which will be two heats of six. The winner of each of those will fill out the six-man final.
As far as the track, will it be a pretty typical supercross-style track?
Yeah, it will be pretty straightforward. That was one of the things Ricky wanted was for it to be safe and to create really great racing.
What’s the TV schedule like for the moto events?
You can check out the full schedule on www.expn.com, but it will all be live on ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC.
Sounds great. Thanks a lot, Tim.
Thanks. We’re super excited–it’s going to be another great year.
Be sure to check out www.expn.com for more info.