Red Bull is sponsoring a new off-road event that could change supercross drastically.
Roadracing is declining in popularity in the US. Harley-Davidson is trying to kickstart new flat track and ice racing series at the X Games, and the MoCo still puts plenty of support behind series that involve their Destroyer drag bike. But, when it comes to races with turns in more than one direction, well, the groundswell of public interest just isn’t there – unless you’re talking supercross.
But the new Red Bull Straight Rhythm event (running on October 4) changes that, too. In this event, riders are basically riding down a half-mile drag strip with whoops. Their website says “there are no turns, just a half-mile-long straight rhythm section. The innovative format will pit a field of 32 riders against each other in a head-to-head, best-of-three bracket format.”
Elsewhere, their marketeers state “The format of Red Bull Straight Rhythm is unlike anything that motocross has ever seen. With races lasting only around one minute against the best riders in the world, competitors cannot afford even a single error if they want to take home a win. It’s an all-out sprint to the finish, and as James Stewart commented after running the course himself, ‘One mistake, and it’s a wrap.’ With a seemingly endless rhythm section, perfection is a must.
Straight Rhythm is all about bike skill and talent. On such a short track with so many technical features like whoops, triples, doubles, table tops, and step on/offs, great riders can emerge from the woodwork and upset the field …”
The first Red Bull Straight Rhythm event was in 2013, and according to the company, they thought it was a success, so it’s returning. The 2014 event takes place in Ponoma, California. Tickets will be on sale in July, and the event will be broadcast on NBC as part of the Red Bull Signature Series.
How will this affect the future? It all comes down to the Golden Rule: He who hath the gold maketh the rules. In this case, energy drinks are major sponsors in motorcycle racing these days, so if they want to change things up, things get changed up.
But there’s probably no reason for panic. The Red Bull Romaniacs hard enduro is just as insane as ever. Red Bull has already been sponsoring the Crashed Ice series for a while now, and there’s no chance it will displace ice hockey.
It’s hard to imagine the AMA’s Supercross series disappearing overnight to be replaced by event similar to this. The Straight Rhythm event could turn out to be a pretty cool alternative to standard motocross action, and as long as they keep pumping money into sponsorships for standard supercross racing, things could actually be better with this new event, especially if it spreads to different regions. Hey, if it gets kids (or more correctly, their parents) buying motorcycles, it’s a good thing.