AMA Pro Racing Exploring Viability of Participation in 2004 Motocross of Nations PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 2, 2004) -- AMA Pro Racing's Motocross/Supercross Series Manager Steve Whitelock has been meeting with top riders, teams and OEM ...
AMA Pro Racing Exploring Viability of Participation in 2004 Motocross of Nations
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 2, 2004) -- AMA Pro Racing's Motocross/Supercross Series Manager Steve Whitelock has been meeting with top riders, teams and OEM representatives to determine their interest level in participating in the 2004 Motocross of Nations (MXoN). Scheduled to be held in Lierop, Netherlands on Oct., 1-3, the Motocross of Nations is historically referred to as the "Olympics of Motorcycling" and features three-man teams from around the world. Notable American motocross stars considered to be top choices to represent the United States include Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham and James "Bubba" Stewart Jr.
Whitelock says that there are always a lot of variables that go into the decision of whether or not to send a team but that this year is particularly complex. "There are many external factors impacting whether or not the United States can field a team," said Whitelock. "Some of the factors this year are uncertainly regarding rider contracts and the difficulty surrounding the logistics of this year's event."
The 2004 MXoN is scheduled three weeks after the end of the AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship and a week before the U.S. Open. "The riders are coming off a grueling motocross season and have a brief window of opportunity to prepare for the U.S. Open, a supercross race", said Whitelock. "It's a lot to expect them to travel to Europe to race at that time."
Whitelock characterized rider interest in attending the MXoN as "mixed". "Frankly speaking, enthusiasm for attending the event is lukewarm," noted Whitelock. "There is some interest and most of the riders I have spoken to have said they would consider going but, in all honesty, I would say that most riders are not that excited about it."
Kerry Graeber, AMA Pro Racing vice president, communications, acknowledges that both AMA Pro Racing and the riders are pressured by fans to attend the MXoN. "I've received e-mails and calls from those that suggest we ought to send a team under any circumstances," said Graeber. "Unfortunately, that blind enthusiasm doesn't really take into account the realities surrounding a MXoN effort in today's racing climate. On one level, we're all enthusiasts and have a feeling that Team USA needs to be there. But on a practical level we have to do what's in the best interests of our riders and AMA Pro Racing."
Sending Team USA to the MXoN represents a considerable cost to the rider's, the OEM's and AMA Pro Racing. With little commercial value in the United States, it's an investment that, from a business consideration, is hard to rationalize. Whitelock hopes that the event organizers work towards making sure the event delivers more value in the United States. "Having participation from riders of the caliber of Carmichael, Stewart and Windham adds credibility to the MXoN," stated Whitelock. "I'd like to see the organizers recognize that and ensure that we receive exposure and value in our home market. Even something as basic as a strong television broadcast in the United States would be a step in the right direction."
Graeber said that the plan is to continue talking to the top riders, teams and OEMs and use that information to make a final decision. "Steve (Whitelock) is going to get a feel for what the riders are thinking and what kind of support their teams are willing and able to provide. Once we have that information, we'll sit down and determine whether or not it is feasible to send a team this year. The decision will be made with the input of all those involved."
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