The 10th annual U.S. Open at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada has now come and gone. And, as always, the racing offered a lot of memorable battles as well as the debut of James Stewart and Chad Reed on their new teams. At the end of the weekend, Stewart would walk away with well over $100,000 and the U.S. Open title. Meanwhile, CR22 had some tough luck with a DNF and a scary crash while leading during Saturday night’s main event. Aside from the racing action, MX Sports announced significant changes for the 2009 outdoor National season, which should benefit teams, riders, and fans alike. For all gossip, highlights, and everything else you need to know about that went down in Vegas, here you go…
In case you haven’t heard by now, the 2009 outdoor Nationals will be taking on an entirely new feel. The typical Saturday/Sunday format is no longer in existence. Instead, things have been moved to Saturday and Saturday only. Aside from that, the class names will now be as followed: 250 class and 450 class. We’ve finally done away with the ridiculous Lites class name and Motocross class name. We caught up with Davey Coombs shortly after he held a press conference inside the MGM Arena in order to get the full scoop on the upcoming changes and why.
Racer X’s Davey Coombs talks about the upcoming changes for the ’09 outdoor Nationals.
It looks like we’ll be seeing a lot of new changes for the 2009 outdoor National season. What exactly should we expect?
First of all, the most significant change is moving it to Saturday races. Don’t worry, however, we’re still going to run a two-moto format. We’re also going to make it a one-day format, so that it makes things easier on the riders and their teams. This way, it gives everybody the opportunity to travel on Friday night, compete on Saturday, and go home on Saturday night if they want to. This is the way Supercross works, so we need to work hand in hand with Supercross because that’s a unique challenge that American motocross has. We have an 18-race SX series that really leads the way and, rather than compete with them, we need to do our best to follow them and work with them.
What kind of stresses were involved in trying to make such a big change as to moving the Nationals to a one-day format on Saturday’s?
I really think we need to work on a qualifying procedure. Is it going to be 70 riders per class, 80, or 60 per class? We’ll probably still utilize the timed qualifying, but we should consider a 15-minute LCQ or something along those lines. Something else to remember is that it doesn’t get dark outside until 8:30p.m. or 9:00p.m. Nobody says the races have to start at 1:00p.m. We’re looking for a later start so that the riders can have an easier day and the fans can have more time to interact with vendors, wander through the pits, and meet their favorite riders. It won’t be all that hard because it used to be only one day.
Will the two motos still be the standard 30 minutes plus two laps?
Yes. Honestly, everything is already out on the table, so maybe the secret is to figure out how many laps they do in those 30 minutes plus two laps and then say we’re going to have an 18-lap race. That way, it’ll be easier for the fans to follow and they can just count the laps. If you know that 18 laps equals 36 minutes or whatever the magic number is, then maybe that’s something we should consider.
MX Sports will be the producer for the ’09 outdoors. Talk a little bit about MX Sports and what that is.
My father and mother founded MX Sports in 1982. The soul purpose of it was the Loretta Lynn AMA National Motocross Championship. Over the years, MX Sports has grown into the worlds largest motocross program. It’s really a year-round job, but when the AMA decided they wanted a single entity to run the outdoor Nationals, we decided that MX Sports would be better equipped to do so. The NPG has always been a bit of a club; it’s an ongoing conversation where you share ideas, you share input, and it was never a financial thing. However, that made it difficult for the AMA because the AMA had to deal with 12 different promoters on 12 different issues. Ultimately, what they wanted to do was have one group, and we thought MX Sports would be the best fit. We are their number one promoter in amateur racing, off-road racing, and ATV racing. We’ve kind of been leading the NPG since my dad founded that in 1997. All of the tools were there, so it was just a matter of finding the right people to join us. I know that NPG is behind us a 100% and they’re also excited about the upcoming changes.
We heard you mention something about the WMA being incorporated into the 250 class television broadcast. What’s the plan there?
Yes. We’ll be doing that, but what we’re really pushing for is to get a stand-alone WMA show. Whether that’s on Fuel TV, MTV2, or even the Speed Channel is yet to be known, but we are working on that. Growing up as a kid, I loved Monday night football and, now, we get to do Saturday night motocross! The idea that you go to the races and then go home and watch the race that same night on T.V. is great. Motocross doesn’t necessarily translate too well live, that’s why when we do the live shows, we’re going to be doing the second motos. But, to have it on Saturday night when our key demographic is able to watch it and not out racing themselves is going to do wonders for our sport… We’re also having the first two motos streaming live on the Internet, so it’ll be big!
What’s the overall goal you’re hoping to accomplish with all of these new changes?
We all want the same thing and that is for our sport to reach its full potential. I think the potential is almost limitless. What we’re doing is trying to put all of the best ideas together and, if we can do that, we’ll give the teams what they want, we’ll give the riders what they deserve, and we’ll give the fans what they’ve always wanted…better coverage. We want motocross to be big.
Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey put in some impressive rides this weekend, both in his heat race and in the main events. Aside from being down on power, Dungey put forth a hell of a ride on Friday night. After going down in the first turn and starting dead last, the Suzuki pilot was able to charge all the way up to fifth place with only one grib on his handlebar. That’s right…one grip. When Dungey went down in the first turn, it literally tore his grip on the clutch side of his handlebars right off. We caught up with the Minnesota native on Saturday night after he took home third place overall on the weekend to get this thoughts on the U.S. Open…
Looking back on the weekend, how do you feel things went for you?
It was definitely a lot of fun, and I really did enjoy myself. Even though I had a rough time on Friday; it was one of those races where I dug deep and was able to come away with fifth. It’s not exactly what I was hoping for, but it was still good. Coming into tonight, I really dug deep and coming into the main event I was ready to go. I didn’t get he best start; I was actually pinched off a little bit. I just put my head down and was working on third place, but I ended up hitting the Tuff Block that Chad (Reed) knocked down when he crashed. I almost lost it, but I was able to save it at the last second. I ended up fourth tonight, but I was third overall. I am stoked to end up on the podium, and I think that’s pretty respectable for being the 250F.
Last night, when you went down in the first turn, your grip came off your handlebar. How was it trying to ride this track with only one grip?
(Laughs) Yeah, I ended up having to ride the entire main event with only one grip. It was the grip on the clutch side (left hand side) that came off. At first, it was a little weird, but I was able to pull it off and kind of became used to it towards the end of the race.
Like you mentioned earlier, you were the top finishing 250 rider. How does that feel, being the only 250 rider on the podium this weekend?
It feels awesome. It was definitely a challenge and a race that I really had to work for. My whole life I’ve had to work for everything, you know? That’s all I know how to do, so it was a good time and a good experience to carry on over for next year.
What are your expectations for ’09?
I want a championship next year, no doubt. I want to try and win every race from here on out and focus on the big picture.
Will you be doing East Coast or West Coast Supercross?
I’m not sure yet. That’s still up in the air, so we’ll figure that all out pretty soon.
What are you going to be doing from here until A1?
I am going to be doing a lot of riding, but I am sure I’ll take a little break and enjoy life… A little vacation and about six weeks before Supercross kicks off I’ll start hitting it pretty hard.