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  • Writer's pictureChris Riesenberg

Why Do Two Row Starts Make Sense in Supercross?

Breaking tradition is always scary, but not changing means not progressing. I think breaking tradition for better tracks, more safety, and better racing makes this a no brainer. Let’s break it down…

The Positives:

  1. More track

    1. The start takes up the most floor space of a SX track

      1. Reducing the space taken up by the start can add an entire lane to a SX track

      2. Because you are separating half the riders, shorter starts are more viable opening up additional floor space for obstacles

    2. Longer Lap times

      1. Less lappers

      2. Less track breakdown

  2. Safety!

    1. Start is often referred to as the scariest/most dangerous part of the race

    2. Less funnel angle

      1. Less gates=less width and less width=less angle needed to funnel into a first turn

    3. Less guys side by side

      1. Instead of 22 guys drag racing at top speed, you cut that in half.

      2. More separation before the first turn

        1. Less pile ups

        2. More spread out going into first section = less chance of a collision/getting landed on/etc.

    4. Shorter starts are possible which = less speed which equals less injury.

  3. Better racing!

    1. Qualifying means more

      1. Instead of just top 40 mattering to make the night show, there is a second goal

      2. Qualifying top 22 ensures you a first row gate pick for your heat

    2. Heat races are no longer a cruise session for sports 4-7

      1. If you have to be top 5 or 6 in your heat to be on the front row, guys will battle more for those middle heat transfer spots

      2. You now have guys battling for the heat win (1-3 trying to win for heat race win bonus money), gate pick (4-7 battling for front row), and transfer spots (8-11 battling to try and get top 9 transfer)

    3. Closer main events

      1. How many times have you seen Tomac get a holeshot and Sexton buried in the pack? The race is basically over as Tomac is checked out before Sexton can get to 2nd.

        1. The best guys get the best gate picks for their heat, meaning they will likely finish the best.

        2. The best guys then also have the best gate picks for the main meaning they will likely finish best.

        3. A top qualifier is unlikely to start outside the top 10 with 11 front row gates.

        4. With the best guys getting better starts it helps make the races less about “startcross” and more about actually racing.

The Negatives:

  1. Tradition

    1. Everyone on an equal line ready to drag race to turn one is part of SX’s history and something unique about motocross from many other racing events

  2. Less exciting start

    1. A long 22 rider drag race into turn 1 is exciting (part of the thrill is the danger)

  3. Poor qualifying and a 2nd row gate pick is more detrimental potentially

My counter to the negatives is simple. An 11 rider drag race and only 2 rows is still unique from most racing, still exciting, and while the first 4 seconds might not be as exciting, the other 19 minutes, 56 seconds, and 1 lap will be better because of it and having all the stars of the sport safer and healthier also makes up for it. I’m not sure if a 2nd row gate pick is actually more detrimental than an outside gate gambling that you aren’t going to get t-boned 4th wide funneling in with 22 riders bar to bar. The final point I’d like to make is, I raced Arenacross for a number of years as both an amateur and professional. Much of that time was spent starting main events in the second row when I was at least good enough to qualify, haha. It really wasn’t that big of a deal and probably helped me as a borderline main event guy because I was racing with guys of my skill level more often versus nailing a start and getting blitzed by like I was tied to a post. Plus, I wasn’t in the way of the fast guys either so they could go about their battles.

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