Every year the issue of riders accumulating enough points to be banished from the 250-class arises. Unfortunately, racers do not make enough from prize money alone to justify advancing into the 450-class. Their primary source of income is from the motorcycle manufacturers. These brands need riders to represent them in both the 250cc and 450cc classes, unfortunately winning on a 450cc machine doesn’t produce sales on 250cc motorcycles. These brands need equal representation in both categories to justify their expenses. In the big picture, racing is just another way to market their bikes to the masses.
The AMA intended the 250cc class as a stepping stone to the premier 450cc class, and if winning the 450cc class ensured sales of the smaller motorcycles, this system would work correctly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality, and an unintended consequence of this system is riders are forced to “take a dive” to ensure employment. Last year was Shane McElrath, who mysteriously had an ailment and when he was about to collect the points needed to advance him to the 450cc class. This year it’s Jeremy Martin, and he got caught red-handed!
(Last year it was Shane Mcelrath taking a dive, it looks to have paid off. This year it's Jeremy Martin)
During the post-race press conference on Thursday, Jeremy Martin was asked by Michael Antonovich, why he was at the SLC airport? Jeremy responded by saying, “ahhhh, that’s a just a, picking someone up here at the airport.” MotoXaddicts later confirmed that Jeremy flew home to Minnesota and will not be racing the remainder of the Supercross series. Unfortunately, Jeremy has painted himself into a corner; if he does anything but completes the series, he will be criticized for being dishonest. I don’t blame him for the decision to skip the remainder of the series, but Jeremy needed to be ready with a built-in excuse. He is returning from a horrific injury, and nobody would question if he needed a few weeks to let his back recover, but with his answer, it’s blatantly obvious he is taking a dive.
(At 9:03 in the video Antonovich put Jeremy Martin on the spot)
It’s time for the AMA to change the rules in the 250cc class. Until they can pay enough prize money to make advancing to the 450cc class fiscally responsible, the system needs to be updated. The class needs to be handled the same as the outdoor nationals, with restrictions removed. Stop making them do the same sandbagging dance at the end of each series. We can leave it as East and West, which ensures the 450cc class will remain the primary focus but allow riders like Jeremy, who if he pointed out of the 250cc class would likely be unemployed.
(If Shane Mcelrath hadn't taken a dive, he would be a struggling 450 privateer instead of well compensated title contender. Who wouldn't take the second option?)
Photos - Feld Entertainment