Betty Blog #8
By Brett Lee
The tap officially turns on.
There is no question that spring has arrived early in Canada because everyone is out doing yard jobs usually saved for April or May, kids are tossing baseballs around, and yes, the sound of bikes can be heard firing up. Here in Ontario, Gopher Dunes has been running for several weeks, Motopark is thrilled about having the earliest opening in their 40 years of operation, and even Walton is talking about an April or May practice day. The season is here again, and if you weren’t feeling it, Toronto Supercross is sure to punch up your fever.
As I said, it is the unofficial start to the season but it has been a busy off season for everyone, perhaps nowhere more so than in Ontario. It has been several years now that several different clubs and competing races fight over entries and direction. This off season there was more effort than ever before to find common ground to move the sport forward. A face to face meeting for the first time took place and talk of a common price structure, scoring systems, rules and schedule cooperation was discussed with all the leaders of a number of clubs. The challenge, as always, is getting everyone to agree but this year we as a group came close, perhaps closer than even I thought possible. However, in a competitive market like the Ontario race scene, bold steps to move the sport forward can only be accomplished together. Unfortunately, the bold steps we all hoped for could not be found but we see the light and change is coming.
Individual tracks find it hard to understand the scrutiny their business is coming under. Tracks being held to higher, more accountable business standards, new tax laws, new government imposed safety standards and higher insurance standards have begun to sweep in a change that will soon affect all regulated and unregulated riding areas. It means some riding areas may not survive or may have to change their business models, but it will secure the investment a number of tracks have been making in recent years. If tracks, just like race clubs, can align on pricing, scheduling, and safety standards, this too will move the sport forward in a positive direction.
For 2012, the new theme may be alignment, cooperation and parity for the sport of Canadian motocross. More people than ever recognize a common direction for which motocross should move and each niche to fill. Racers are going to see the subtle hints of common direction when some tracks and clubs take positions that will prove to be better for the sport. It is obvious here in Ontario and a lesson for the entire country that splintering halts growth.
This weekend, the weight of those issues and the excitement of possibilities are set to the side, and for everyone involved in the sport there is a weekend off, but still at a race.
I have said this before but Toronto Supercross evokes strange emotions for me each year. CMRC is not involved in the event in any way other than casual support we always offer to our friends at Feld. MXP is always simply tolerated at Toronto. It is often made to feel as if the media clique (that does dedicate their business and year to following the supercross series) always gets a little emotional at any “one timers” that show up. The sport still has its high school drama, even at the highest levels. So I find myself and most of the industry I know simply finding a chair to enjoy the race here at home. It really is the last weekend before tracks across the country come to life when a busy six months at local tracks begins. It is also an amazing opportunity to see a world class event in a world class setting.