Ben Townley has this message for anyone who wants to listen.
“What you are about to hear is my personal opinion. Many people ask me my opinion about NZ MX and I’m usually reserved about it. I’ve decided it’s time to voice it some more. I’ll start by saying that, I’m am VERY aware that New Zealand Motocross is run from a club base and everyone’s support and effort in making the NZ MX scene work is voluntary. I know this from a first hand basis, my parents are deeply involved with the Taupo Club, so I don’t under estimate how hard it is. What you’re about to hear may seem like a jumbled mess, I don’t write articles well, so just bear with me.
“Point 1 – First and foremost, I think MNZ needs to regulate a SEASON. If there isn’t a rough guideline, or strict for that matter, then I think NZ MX and SX will not grow like it should. My opinion for this as follows. Most winter club round’s series finish in September, as I’m aware. Major event permits for MX should be released only for the month’s of October and November and then again for April. In my perfect world I would like to see events like Labour Weekend, Auckland Champs, King of the Mountain, maybe North Island Champs, Valley Champs, Gold Nuggets etc etc run from October 1st till November 31st and the others in April. Those type of events are to cater for everyone from Juniors, Seniors (National/Support) Vets, Women’s, as they do now. There should NOT be emphasis on the National class riders to race these events I think (more on that later).
“On December 1st I think there should be a ban on MNZ MX event permits. It should be our SX season from December 1st till January 31st. The 20 or so days before Xmas should be used as training/coaching/preparation for SX and the SX race season should start a few days after Xmas. In my perfect world Woodville would move to a couple of weeks later than it is now, that way we could get a the very LEAST, 5 solid rounds of SX in between Xmas and the last weekend of Jan. Then there would be one weekend off and then Woodville. After Woodville the Senior Nationals should start, and run there 4 or 5 rounds through end of February and start of March. Major event permits may be released again for the month of April. This vital from a perspective that we need to eliminate MX events from the SX season, and we need to utilise the summer months for both SX and MX. It gives our National (Pro) riders the chance to pick and choose after the winter months, but allows all the other riders there chance at the bigger events to grow there riding and improve at a higher level
“Point 2 – Supercross. This area of our sport needs resurrecting MAJORLY. I am willing to invest my time into helping this happen. It is a hugely valuable part of the year for our sport to present and grow. It is the great New Zealand holiday month, it is our time of the year to get head’s through the gates that are not diehard motocross fans. These people are on holiday, they have time to cruise along on a Saturday afternoon/evening and watch a spectacular show. From the riders side, with a season regulated, training and set up advice, track set up and a whole new attitude, SX will once again be a show for our sport. If we allow the riders December to train and focus only on SX tracks, it will help hugely. Our brands that pay there riders, MUST make there riders race. If the brands don’t support it then it will be hard to gain momentum, and I don’t know why they wouldn’t, SX is the most mainstream a motocross brand can get from a dirt bike (other than TV). Tracks, I think we need to go back to basics, build some new building blocks and grow from there. Make them simple, safe and fun to start with, BUT, they must grow so that we can allow our top riders to improve and for it to become more of a spectacle. Our top National riders must elevate there skills in the SX area, just to go to Australia now, it is hard to get any type of a team deal because of the SX factor let alone to the USA.
“Point 3 – MX Nationals. This is one thing I have stated before, MX Nationals must move back to the Feb/March months. I have so many reason’s why, that I could write two pages on it, but I will list them quickly. Weather – we have enough clubs with great watering structures now. Weather again – how often do we have mud races through those months ??? Sponsors – if we are going to expose our sponsors correctly, it needs to be in good weather for them to feel they have gotten there money’s worth out of there sponsorship advertised all over the place. Spectators – again, to grow the sport, the only people who want to watch races in the winter/spring months are die hard MX fans, summer is the way to get people through the gate. Riders – although I have come to understand now that we need support classes, the emphasis should be on our National classes, we hold 4 or 5 rounds to find our National Champions, full stop. It is the perfect time of the year for our top Pro’s to prepare for going overseas, does anyone sitting there remember when Shayne and Daryl and James Marsh and Josh Coppins, Daryl Hurley and those guys would race Nationals back then, it provided an A list of names, great racing and provided those guys with bread and butter. If we are going to help our top riders, that is the way forward, not at the end of the Northern Hemisphere summer when everything has wound down (October). TV – the chance’s of the weather being good in those months is far higher, the racing will be much closer, sponsors will be exposed better and the crowds will be bigger, that has to look better on mainstream TV ??? Lastly the MX Nationals should be set after Woodville, 4 or 5 rounds. We must provide assistance for the South Islanders some how. One of my ideas, it might sound stupid, but all of the South Islanders meet in Picton, we hire a moving truck to put all of there bikes, gear, tents and crap in. They walk on the ferry and on the other side a bus is provided for them to get to the event and back ??? Is that realistic, I ask you. There are so many good riders from the South Island and from the past, present and the future. Lastly, I think that it is important to stick to the same clubs and structure for at the very least 2 years, if not 3. That’s how most motocross championships all over the world are run, they go to the same places year in year out and grow those evenst and that series.
“A perfect looking Championship right now to me for the next few years would involve – Timaru, Pukekohe, Taupo, New Plymouth and Rotorua, maybe the Hawke’s Bay as well (I haven’t been there, nor have I been to Timaru).
“Point 3 – To cap off. I personally think the season aspect of this letter is the most important. It will set up much more of a uniform for people to set budgets and allow people to focus on racing as a series of events rather than major events all year round, all over the place. Our National riders can pick and chose before the December and for two months and a half they would have solid quality racing. For Juniors it would make sense to, they would have some good meetings just after the winter, some would race SX and then be able to get some big events after the senior Nationals and straight into there Junior Nationals. The SX part of our sport is very important, as are getting the MX Nationals back to the summer. In short, major MX races through October and November, SX training/coaching/preparation in December before Xmas, and SX from after Xmas till end January. Woodville and MX nationals through February and March.
“That’s just my opinion. Hope that is helpful.”