Once again, I’m starting to hear the “boring races” meme, which some in the motocross media started early this season. It goes like this: now that James Stewart has figured out how to go fast without falling (as much), coupled with the fact that the only guy that can stay in the same area code, Rick Carmichael, is retiring… from here on out we can only expect runaway races in which James checks out and the outcome is never in doubt. Some say this equates to boring, and many register this physically by actually leaving races before the checkered flag flies.
Now, I have seen some boring races… well, let me qualify that: I have seen some boring races ON TV. For example, I thought last year’s supercross finale in Las Vegas… the one that was hyped up to the extreme, the one for all the marbles, the first time EVER that a SX points race was so close in the last round… but it unfortunately turned into a procession. I wasn’t at Vegas, I watched it on TV and I thought it was boring. But I watched it until the end, never once considering the option of changing the channel. I heard from some who attended the race that it was anything BUT boring, and they were either standing or sitting on the edge of their seats the entire 20 laps, in anticipation of something unthinkable happening. And the fact that they had a different experience from mine doesn’t surprise me one bit: watching races live, in my opinion, can NEVER be boring.
Back when I was a young racer learning the craft in Maryland (AMA District 7), there were two really fast guys that figuratively stood head and shoulders above their competition: Jimmy Lauer and Glen Taylor. When these guys went at it, everybody would line the track to watch their great battles for the win. However, if one or the other chose not to show up for a given race, the other would usually cruise to the win uncontested, much like Stewart did during some of those races when Carmichael wasn’t present. And yet, the D7 fans would still line the course to watch the fast guy run away with the win. Why? Because watching Taylor or Lauer dissect a race course was pure pleasure in and of itself. Racers appreciate what other racers do on a racetrack, especially if we cannot demonstrate the same level of skill. Motocross becomes art when practiced by a speedy expert, and there’s much to see and appreciate even in races where the outcome is “never in doubt.”
So to those that claim that the upcoming Outdoor Motocross season will be “boring” because there’s no one as fast as Stewart to challenge him for the title, I say “just watch.” Watch closely, because what you’ll be seeing is the performance of a maestro. Enjoy the show.