Photo by: Octopi

“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.

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Last Saturday night Marvin Musquin and Eli Tomac served up some serious drama–the kind of drama that compels people to take sides but, more importantly, tune in and watch. Their aggressive racing and emotional showdown at the press conference was not only good for both racers but for the sport too. I doubt Eli Tomac will agree with me, but last Saturday was beautiful for so many reasons. First, the last pass in the final lap was not nearly as dirty as Eli described. It was the last lap for the win! The unwritten rules I was raised by imply that on the last lap for the win, pretty much anything goes. Now, had this pass been on the 8th lap for 3rd place, I think we could all agree it would be considered stupid.

Video of the Marvin – Eli incident below.

I believe Eli was embarrassed that he left the door open (slightest crack) and relied on Marvin Musquin being a guy not known for aggressive riding. Using the timeless high school analogy, Eli (the jock), was knocked out by Marvin (the nerd). Is there any doubt that if Justin Barcia was in Marvin’s position, Eli would have expected the move and probably defended the position? Also would he be as mad and embarrassed if it was someone else?

While Eli lost his $100K (rough estimate) win bonus, he showed up and bared his true self to everyone at the post race press conference. Love him or hate him, this past weekend he dropped the polished choir boy persona and gave us a look at who he is behind closed doors. Turns out the fans won last weekend, riders ditched their prepared cliché answers and showed us their human side.

In the press conference on Saturday night, Eli Tomac not only voiced his real opinion about Marvin’s pass, he also voiced his real opinion on Marvin (as he put it) fixing the race in New Jersey by moving over for Ryan Dungey. The 110,000 views of the press conference on Youtube shows why this sport needs more real opinions by the athletes in it.

In the press conference, Eli clearly had some serious anger directed at Marvin and KTM for this race and last year’s race fixing in New Jersey. I loved when he called Marvin a cheater to his face and Marvin didn’t deny cheating. Marvin responded with, “We can talk about stuff like that for a long time. Josh Grant was right there trying to help you in Vegas.” My translation: “KTM made me do it, but Kawasaki did it too.” Eli rarely gives a glimpse into his true emotions, and last weekend, we all could relate to his raw answers and feelings.

Supercross fans want to feel like they know the riders they cheer for. It’s an escape from our normal lives. For a couple hours on Saturday night, we live vicariously through our favorite riders. When a rider refuses to show emotion or, worse, consistently provides cliché answers, we cannot connect. These types of vague answers will turn fans against a rider; just ask Joey Savatgy how it’s working for him. He might be a great guy, but his formula answers and tacky sponsor plugs don’t give fans any reason to cheer for him. If you think I am wrong, watch fans start turning on Zach Osborne.

The record books will show only that Marvin won, but those who witnessed the race will be talking about the pass for years to come. Photo by: Simon Cudby

In 2017, Zach was an amazing story. Watching him on the podium with his wife and daughter really gave us a look into his personality. This season, it appears someone has given him some bad advice about podium interviews. Rather than answer questions, Zach speed reads his sponsors while basically ignoring any interview questions. This makes him look smug and out of touch with fans. While I am sure his sponsors appreciate the airtime, it’s also important to acknowledge the people who support those sponsors: the fans!

The interviews are intended to show the rider without their helmet, so we can see the human side of Supercross. Riders and their media advisers need to understand that rider popularity and exposure sells their products. We can all read the logos plastered on their chest and see the fake Energy drink in their hand and the goggles around their neck. Stop hijacking the interviews intended for fans to learn about their favorite rider’s personalities by turning them into horrible sponsor reads. By the way, when is the last time a rider thanked the fans for paying $100 a ticket and $10 a beer to watch them race their motorcycles inside a football stadium? Need I remind the riders and teams that without fans spending their hard earned money, they are just a group of guys riding dirt bikes on a Saturday.

Click to see the latest episode of the “Vision” series

Hats off to Eli and Marvin for lifting the veil on Saturday night and revealing part of their personalities. Just like any great story, there are heroes and villains. It’s not exactly clear who is who, but that’s what makes it so fun to watch. Half the crowd hates and half the crowd loves, but they all care!

If you are one of the two fans on earth that missed it, you can watch the 450 press conference from Foxborough below.