Every year, the issue of riders accumulating enough points to be banished from the 250-class arises. Unfortunately, racers do not make enough from prize money alone to justify advancing into the 450-class. Their primary source of income is from the motorcycle manufacturers. These brands need riders to represent them in both the 250cc and 450cc classes but, unfortunately, winning on a 450cc machine doesn’t produce sales on 250cc motorcycles. These brands need equal representation in both categories to justify their expenses. In the big picture, racing is just another way to market their bikes to the masses.
Screenshot of the 2020 250SX eligibility and advancement rules for being forced to the 450SX class.
The AMA intended the 250cc class as a stepping stone to the premier 450cc class and, if winning the 450cc class ensured sales of the smaller motorcycles, this system would work correctly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality, and an unintended consequence of this system is riders are forced to “take a dive” and not point out of the class to ensure employment. Last year was Shane McElrath, who mysteriously had an ailment when he was about to collect the points needed to advance him to the 450cc class. This year, it’s Jeremy Martin and he got caught red-handed!
During the post-race press conference on Thursday, Jeremy Martin was asked by Michael Antonovich, why he was at the SLC airport? Jeremy responded by saying, “ahhhh, that’s a just a, picking someone up here at the airport.” MotoXaddicts’ Dan Lamb later confirmed that Jeremy flew home to Minnesota and will not be racing the remainder of the Supercross series. Jeremy has painted himself into a corner; if he does anything but completes the series, he will be criticized for being dishonest. I don’t blame him for the decision to skip the remainder of the series, but Jeremy needed to be ready with a built-in excuse. He is returning from a horrific injury, and nobody would question if he needed a few weeks to let his back recover. With his answer, though, it is blatantly obvious he is taking a dive.
It is time for the AMA to change the rules in the 250cc class. Until they can pay enough prize money to make advancing to the 450cc class fiscally responsible, the system needs to be updated. The class needs to be handled the same as the outdoor nationals, with restrictions removed. Stop making them do the same sandbagging dance at the end of each series. We can leave it as East and West, which ensures the 450cc class will remain the primary focus but allow riders like Jeremy, who if he pointed out of the 250cc class would likely be unemployed.