By Katy B.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season is nearing the end for 2016, which means the Motocross of Nations is coming up fast. Set to take place in Maggiora, Italy on September 25th, fans across the nation eagerly wait for Team USA to be announced. The American Motorcycle Association will announce the riders chosen for the United States team at Unadilla this weekend. We have been expecting to see Eli Tomac on the list, but unfortunately it looks like Eli Tomac will not compete at the event. Kawasaki and Eli Tomac informed Team USA that they will not participate in the event on August 10th.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Eli Tomac stated. “I have raced the Motocross of Nations twice now and it has always been an honor to be chosen for this prestigious event. This year, due to the race schedule being so full and the commitments I have made for the month of September, the team and I will not have the time and preparation needed to compete in a race as big as the Motocross of Nations. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to represent the U.S. again in the future. I wish Team USA 2016 the best as they compete against the world in Italy and look forward to seeing us back on top of the box where we belong.”- Racer X
Tomac is one of the strongest riders Team USA could offer for Motocross of Nations. It is a major disappointment to see Tomac out for this event as Team USA has not won a Motocross of Nations since 2011. What could make one of America’s top riders step away from a chance to represent his country in the biggest worldwide race of the year?
Contractual obligations. Tomac is scheduled to compete in the two US Grands Prix (Charlotte and Glen Helen) in September following the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season. Rumor is that Tomac is being forced by Monster to race these events right after finishing a grueling outdoor season. This means very little rest and recovery for Tomac.
Tomac isn’t alone, other riders like Ryan Dungey are often pushed by promoters and sponsors to compete in events outside of the normal Supercross and Outdoor National Championships. Just one week following Motocross of Nations a new event will take place in Germany, the SMX Riders’ Cup. If you aren’t aware, Dungey has been out for most of the outdoor season this year due to a neck injury and will be missing Motocross of Nations due to the same injury. Seems strange to think Dungey will be unable to race Motocross of Nations but just one week later will be all healed up for the new SMX Riders’ Cup.
As fans we love to see our favorite racers shred the track on TV all year long. As advocates of the sport, we should be aware of some things. These contractual obligations are forcing riders to compete in races all around the world during what should be an off season. Every athlete needs rest and recovery time and every person needs time with their family. Pushing riders to compete with little to no rest can cause injuries.
“You guys think there are injuries now, just keep pushing these guys. You’ll see injuries more and more.”-Steve Matthes, Pulp MX Show
In the end, if a rider is forced to fly across the world to race in an extra event just to fulfill contract obligations there is little passion driving their efforts. Steve Matthes states in the latest Pulp MX Show “No one is excited about doing the two US GP’s that I have talked to. I’ve talked to riders that are like I’m going to fake an injury, I hope I get hurt, I don’t want to go.. but Monster is saying you gotta go.”
No passion or excitement? What kind of racing does that make for?
“So between the teams, promoters and energy drinks they are pushing these riders to the edge. They are pushing the teams to the edge because don’t forget as much as the riders have to work the teams work twice as hard.”-Steve Matthes, Pulp MX Show
We can’t forget about the teams, not only are the riders pushed to the limit but mechanics, team managers and other personnel end up working longer hours and spend more time on the road away from their family.
So you might ask why riders are even going to these events. Well just like any highly sought after job if you aren’t willing to do the work there is a long line of people eager to take your place. Keefer hit the nail on the head in the Pulp MX Show, stating “riders are expendable, if they don’t show up someone else will.”
Every sport has an off season, Motocross should too.