Swizcorner "Red Bull Marketing and 2018 ProgreSX"
By:
swizcore
The “off-season” in this sport seems to shrink more each year as the powers that be (cough Energy Drinks), devise ways to freshen up old ideas and monetize new ones.

 
Lead By: James Lissimore
 
Once upon a time there was the bevy of overseas off-season Supercross races and then there came the US Open which ultimately evolved into the Monster Energy Cup and now we have the Red Bull Straight Rhythm and even Press Conferences held to unveil pretty substantial sweeping changes to a basic format that hasn’t changed since cigarettes sponsored the series.
 
I didn’t want to express my thoughts of the Monster Energy Cup of 2017 until I had fully weighed it in comparison to this past weekend’s Red Bull Straight Rhythm. I know, completely different aspects of two wheeled racing, format and stakes but be that as it may, they are showcasing the discipline we love and many of the racers we focus our attention on most weekends of the year. Last year I essentially wrote that the once uber exciting Monster Energy Cup had started feeling like a dragged out straight program that was hurting for some adjustments. This year was the same type of feeling with the volume on the snooze turned up a bit. Some of this wasn’t Monster’s fault as many of the top names of the sport that make the racing compelling just were not there. Injuries, retirement, un-solidified deals a early crashes and side-linings …. All added up to make the Marvin Million more of a likelihood than a stretch. I’d say the biggest surprise of the 450 class was Jason Anderson just looking good, as opposed to impressive. It’s really an indicator and all you need to know that the best class to watch on the night was the Superminis!
 
I’m honestly willing to give the MEC a pass this year due to the unusual lack of top rider turnout but that being said, It’s not great when I fall asleep before the last 450 gate drop. Maybe that’s more of an indicator that I’m getting old (insert regretful Emoji face here).
 
Right off the top I want to say the Red Bull Straight Rhythm had one thing going for it before even the first bit of action or first two stroke braaaapp’d to life: it began earlier. An hour may not be much but the difference between wrapping up at 11:30 EST and 12:30 EST is huge in practice. I was not only awake through the last run, I was fully engaged and attentive. Red Bull always does their events right and to include a two stroke class was obviously going to be a crowd favorite but the Red Bull guys didn’t stop there with the obvious choice, they went a step further and allowed the 250 two strokes to line up against the 250 four strokes as well!! This is something people (not involved with race teams) have been wanting to see for many years now and it played out perfectly.
 
The head to head 2T vs 4T concept was intriguing, exciting and damn competitively matched. Just like last year, Red Bull allowed the Alta Motors Electric bike compete and though it was once again an impressive display, Josh Hill is just maybe a bit too far removed from the level that Alex Martin is currently competing (that certainly makes Josh Hill want to barf). What else could Red Bull do to really put some stank on their execution of the Straight Rhythm for 2018? Allow Ronnie Mac to line up with his cut off, sharp edged rear fender, Pabst Blue Ribbon graphics and helmet, not to mention the swingarm sticker that warned you right away what you were in for! Red Bull is NOT scared and the fact that they broadcast the event exclusively through the Red Bull TV app, good on them. They invest in themselves and run the show THEY want to run and know their fans want to see.
 
The difference between these two events really highlights one of the most confusing things to me when it comes to Supercross. We always hear that the Supercross broadcast is what it is because we want to grow the sport by pulling in the channel surfers and fringe fans. On the other side we have Red Bull who is catering to the core fans who are searching out this programming. In the end, with Red Bull we get a much more pure broadcast which satisfies the core fan base and feels like an “insiders” event. With the MEC or a Supercross broadcast we are talked down to or not talked to at all because the commentary is focused on those who don’t follow whats going on. The focus is on talking about X rider on the “Y colored bike” or how much harder it is to do what the riders do than it looks, or the format of the racing. It’s a watered down down broadcast when all we want is the concentrated version that we never get. These “fringe” fans aren’t sticking with it, they aren’t planning their Saturday nights around tuning in, so why the hell are we alienating US in an attempt to lure them? It makes absolutely no sense. The fan base is what it is and has always been. Accept it and exploit it with a better planned/executed tv show.
 
I’ve already spent more time on the MEC and Straight Rhythm than I planned so I’m going to handle the newly announced SX format changes in true REEEEEEaapid Fire form.
 
Updated Points Structure-
I’ll have to get back to you on this one. I honestly don’t think it’s going to have much affect on determining the actual Series Champion. I see it playing a much bigger role in the depths of the results with the 10-20th place guys and seeing some great battles that in the past may have just been rolling around late in the mains.
 
East/West Showdowns-
Cool. The more opportunities for us to see the coasts combined the better. Here’s the thing that confuses me. We call this an entry-level regional series and split the coasts yet we award them full 450 style points, and treat it like it is on par with the Premier class. Which is fine with me, if you’re going to handle it like a Premier class and only talk about it like it’s a lesser class, lets give up the charade. Or better yet in my mind, lets go the other way, introduce some real restrictive rules like the old Kawasaki Race of Champions races where everyone is essentially on the same equipment. I’m not saying put them all on one brand but lets make them all ride truly showroom based bikes where they can’t replace forks/shocks engine internals with non OEM publicly accessible components.
 
Triple Crown-
I like this too. No joker lane is smart/better and the olympic scoring to award a full 26pts to the evenings winner is the better way to handle it than 3 main events each with 26pts awarded. That would be ridiculous. I’m fine with the Main Event race lengths on these nights but I would like to see the order of the differing Main Event lengths be variable and revealed in real time at the beginning of the broadcast.
 
New Qualifying Format-
This just is what it is in my mind. Semi’s weren’t great but Heat’s where 9 guys get in could also be a touch boring. Whatever, Semi’s haven’t been around long since they were reintroduced and they’ll probably be back again at some point.
 
Amateur Racing-
Yay for the amateurs. I raced Pontiac back in 1995 and will never forget it, everyone should have a chance if they desire. The tracks will be toned down but they are still a blast if you’re an amateur like I was who was bound and determined to send it or why bother!?
 
Bring on A1 already, this off-season is too long! Snark Snark...

Comments

Good point about dumbed-down TV

This always irks me. The NFL or MLB announcers don't spend much- if any- time explaining how teams score. Instead they tell us little stories about the players, discuss strategy, stats, etc. That is much more compelling.

If a casual viewer isn't captivated by bikes flying through the air over jumps and riders stuffing each other in a berm (nets bro!), then hearing that a Yamaha is blue, or that someone from NASCAR is in attednace isn't going to capture their attention.

I learned the rules and intricacies of football because I was intrigued by the game I was seeing played. Not the other way around.