A Matthes Report: MEC Changes

Matthes breaks the MEC down.

Matthes breaks the MEC down.

The Monster Energy Cup is coming up this weekend right here in my adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. I wrote about this history of this race, what it is like now and make a suggestion on keeping it fresh over on Racer X Online this week, so I won’t go on and on more about that topic.

What is cool about the MEC is the interesting twists they implement for this race to try and make it different. If you’re someone who has read my work before, you know I’m into trying some different things when it comes to the regular ol’ supercross series here in the USA. Let’s look at some of the things that the MEC does and whether or not they can be or should be put into the regular series.

1. Starting Grates: Well, my opinion on this doesn’t really matter. The starting grates that the riders launch off of have been at the race for a few years and, as we know, the MXGP series makes them mandatory now. To be honest, in talking to the riders that have started off them, it doesn’t seem to really matter much or change much. The only thing to talk about is how with these gates, traction control on the bikes and starting devices to hold the front end down, we’re taking more of the “start skill" away from the riders.

The start is always a major talking point at the MEC (Monster Energy Media/Ryne Swanberg)

2. Joker Lane: Every year the MEC features a lane that’s slower than the real track that a rider has to take one time per main event. It hasn’t affected the racing much except for when a rider forgets to take it, which has happened four or five times now. This is amazing, I know, but it’s right there. Anyways, the Joker Lane feels a little too gimmicky for insertion into a race series where millions are on the line. However, making the Joker Lane quicker is definitely better than making it longer. Passing is hard, so why not help that out?

3. Multiple Main Events: I am in favor of this, yes, but not every single week. If rumors are correct, we’ll see multiple mains at some races next year. Why not change things up to see if they affect the series in one way or another? Maybe some riders are better at the shorter races than the longer twenty-minute ones? Throwing a wrench into the format is kind of cool methinks.

The amateur races provide some of the greatest racing (KTM Images/Simon Cudby)

4. Track Design: The MEC doesn’t have any whoops and many of the obstacles are rounded off or made a bit easier for reasons you’ll read below. While the start is pretty cool up on top of the stadium and the Joker Lane distracts people, the bottom line is the track is too easy for most of the riders. Keeps racing close, for sure, but the design principles are not something I’d like to see in the seventeen round SX series.

5. Amateur All-Stars/Supermini: The MEC invites amateur all-stars and the best of the best on superminis to race in between the 450SX main events and they are usually pretty exciting races, although they have some carnage in them. That’s on a tamed down supercross track, so it’s a hard no to bring either one of these classes into a real supercross.

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Husqvarna/Simon Cudby

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