The last US Open of Supercross was held in October of 2009, and since that event, there has been a void left in the MX/SX off-season waiting to be filled. Rumors have been circulating almost since the checkered flag flew on the final night at the final US Open, but nothing had come to fruition until recently. At the Las Vegas Supercross finale at Sam Boyd's Silver Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada, in early May, Feld Motorsports and Monster Energy announced a new event to take place in October at Sam Boyd entitled the "Monster Energy Cup."
It's not a replacement for the US Open, but rather an entirely new event just filling a convenient off-season spot for a one-off race, and the format is going to be entirely different from anything the sport has ever seen in the USA.
"Our goal with creating the Monster Energy Cup is really not to have an 18th Supercross; this is a unique mega-event that was created with Feld Motorsports and our title sponsor, Monster Energy, to create an environment that is different from a standard Supercross," says Feld Motorsports' Todd Jendro. "This event will have the best riders in the world. We're reaching out to a lot of international riders as well to attend. We're working with two of the sport's icons - Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath - to help develop this unique track in a stadium environment that will have a tremendous motocross-style influence to it, and also have some Supercross obstacles as well."
The "motocross-style influence" will include a long track that runs much farther outside the stadium than the AMA Supercross round hosted at the same venue. It's important to make note that it's not a full-blown supercross track for many reasons, including the fact that the racers are just coming off of a long outdoor-motocross season, and also that a big hope of the event is to pull in many of the GP-series regulars, such as MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli. If it's full-blown supercross, many of these racers would be unwilling to take part.
"It will be a hybrid track," Jendro says. "The track itself will help level the playing field for certain riders that excel in those different disciplines, between motocross, Supercross, and even for international riders. It should be really exciting."
To put an exclamation point on the event, it's possible for one racer to walk away from the race a full one million dollars richer than he came in.
"There will be a quarter-million-dollar purse," Jendro says. "It's a one-night event, but there will be three main events. It will be three stages where riders will compete in their heat races, semis and LCQ to get to a main event. These three main events will run and riders in the first main event will transfer to the second main event based on their finishing order, so nobody gets eliminated but everybody moves on to these three stages of these main events. And they're lined up in order of how they finish in the previous main event. But a rider that sweeps all three main events will earn one million dollars."
A seven-figure purse is enough to even cause the GOAT, Ricky Carmichael, to tease on Twitter that he needs to dust off his boots and give it a run, although there's no indication that he actually will.
"That is gigantic," Jendro says. "A payday like that has never been done in the history of the sport. And we're really excited."
And this event should be a true "open" event as well.
"The other fun, unique thing that we're talking about is that because this is a unique one-off event that we are talking about altering the rules with the AMA to allow a lot of flexibility with the rules and being able to test new things and pretty much having it open," Jendro says. "Other than fuel and sound we're pretty much talking about opening up the rules to you can run anything you want. It allows the American distributors and the OEMs to be able to pull out some of their stuff that they've been testing and putting it into a real-world environment. That will be kind of fun and interesting."
It's also important that if it's a true "open" event, bikes of all sizes should be competitive with one another.
"Obviously, the Open Class format is something that we want to talk about," Jendro says. "We're developing and designing the track for a 250 four-stroke to be able to compete against a 450 on the same level playing field and developing a short start straight, developing corners that don't necessarily have something to jump out of them so that these guys that have these 250 four-strokes can compete against the 450 in the environment of a stadium. That's going to be exciting."
And the final kicker is that Feld is hoping to bring in the top 85cc racers and the top 250 A racers from Loretta Lynn's Amateur Motocross Nationals to compete on the biggest stage in off-road motorcycle racing.
"What we're seeing is as we invite the 85cc they're like the future superstars of the sport," Jendro says. "You know, James Stewart, [Mike] Alessi, [Chris] Pourcel; all those guys have gone through that class. We've seen them race at a young age before they've become the superstars that they are. And we're also bringing in the 250 A Class, which is the immediate kids graduating out of that class and turning pro. So, we're kind of getting a glimpse into the future with these guys."
Both the immediate future, and the not-so-immediate future, but chances are good that if you hear their names at the Monster Energy Cup, take note, because you'll hear them again.
Pro racers planning to take part right now include defending AMA 450 Supercross and Motocross champ Ryan Villopoto, multi-time world champ Ben Townley, Kevin Windham, reigning Lites West champ Broc Tickle, reigning Lites East champ Justin Barcia, multi-time world champ Marvin Musquin, AMA Arenacross Champ Tyler Bowers, multi-time X Games gold medalist Josh Hansen, former MX and SX champ Ivan Tedesco, Brett Metcalfe, Kevin Windham, and 2010 Lites West champ Jake Weimer who recently said he is planning on taking that million dollars home to Murrieta, California. Ryan Dungey will be a last-minute addition to the field if he chooses to take part with his new KTM team, but it depends on how far he comes along on his new bike in the next two weeks. And multi-time indoor/outdoor champ Chad Reed officially bowed out of the competition yesterday.
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