With the 2018 offseason in its last weeks, in time for riders and teams to finish their final preparation before the start of the 2019 season. Although many view events that occur between the gate drop at Anaheim and the checkered flag at the Ironman as the most important on the schedule, racers with the right connections have cashed in big at special events around the world in the last few months. The last of the “big” offseason events will take place next week in Italy with the Torino Supercross, a first-year race that intends to bring SX back to the European country. The Torino race will be a one-night event with a handful of high-profile American racers on the entry list and recently we spoke with organizer Paolo Schneider about the creation of the race and what Italian fans can expect.
There have always been European races in the winter. Paris-Bercy has always been a big one and Geneva has a long history, but there have been some Italian ones as well like Genoa, which has gone away. The plan for you guys is to bring a race back to Italy with Turin. What was the need to bring it back?
Genoa stopped in 2015, so it's been a few years that a big international Supercross has been missing from Italy. Genoa was at the same level as Bercy and Geneva, it was a very historic race and we wanted to bring it back. The problem with the venue was no longer allowing them to use the structure, so to have another race we had to find a new structure. Turino is the third biggest city in Italy after Rome and Milan, and it has the Pala Alpitour, which was built for the 2006 Winter Olympics. It is the perfect venue to re-launch a Supercross race. We will bring the old power of Genoa but with the new venue and athletes. It is really nice and I am pumped because I love events. My passion comes from the 90s, when Jeremy McGrath and Jeff Emig would come race in Europe. Supercross is much more of a show and is always easier for people to enjoy, because there is less time and it's easy to watch from a seat while you're comfortable.
It's sometimes difficult for a first-year Supercross to get riders, but you have some big names committed.
The date is December 15th, it's just before Christmas and it's perfect for Italy because everyone is excited for the holiday. But for the Supercross calendar, it is not that good because the Supercross season starts in January. We worked with Eric Peronnard, a good friend of mine, and he is a capable professional because he helps organize races around the world. He is in contact with everybody and we managed to have a good line up already for the first year. Ricky Carmichael is the ambassador for the event because everyone knows him and he's very good for the sport. He's still very fast, so he will participate through the night program doing head to head duels. Justin Brayton is coming as he always races in Europe, Cole Seely signed up in the summer, and Malcolm Stewart is someone that is nice with people and everyone likes him. He will be in a battle with Brayton and Seely. We will have the Italian hero Angelo Pellegrini, who will be very fast and the Italian fans will be pumped.
Freestyle has a purpose with the show and for that, we will have Axell Hodges, Jarryd McNeil, Davide Rossi, and other names that will be confirmed. With those riders, the show is there and we can't go wrong.
Motorcycle culture is huge in Italy, from the road racing to the scooters in the cities. Motocross racing is big with racers like Antonio Cairoli and others, but how much is Supercross followed here?
I think that the Supercross championship in Italy is not the best, but I think that people that really like motocross look to Supercross as a whole as a reference for the sport.
Supercross fans in Italy, there are not so many but they are passionate. We hope to make a show for the families and hope for a stadium full of people. We know that in the US that not everyone at a race is fully "in" to motocross, that they go to the stadium for the show, and that's why we will have things like freestyle and Ricky Carmichael and the other racers. It must be enjoyable by all types of people and we want to help create the fan base for Supercross in Italy.
I think that passionate people look at Supercross as a reference, so I think it's easy to sell Supercross as a show to people that might not be as passionate about motorcycling. It's easy to come for three hours, watch the show, and enjoy the night.
The layout for the track is interesting and looks like it will offer good racing. How did you come up with the design?
Because the building is not as big as a US stadium, it has 15,000 seats, we knew we needed to create something different and special. The size is similar to the old Bercy and we will create a track that is mixed with the freestyle motocross course. We have riders that are consulting on the design so the track will be good.