Well, it is finally out. The 2019 Monster Energy Supercross schedule was released the other day. You can look at it for yourself and start to make plans. It's the latest the schedule has come out in a number of years and it doesn't have a lot of detail in it, which is one reason why I thought we were waiting. Feld Motorsports was trying to line up which races would be Triple Crown ones and which ones would be the 250SX East/West events and I was hoping we'd get more information on the amateur racing events happening on Sundays. Maybe even what network the races would be on next year (bet on NBC by the way). But nope, we got some vague info on all that stuff but no specifics.
But, hey, better late than never, right? Looking at the schedule there are some interesting additions and subtractions for 2019 and a few things that caught my eye. Let's delve into them, yeah?
– First up is the surprise that Tampa, Florida is off the schedule. Tampa was back on after a 17-year absence last year and it made sense because Feld Entertainment is located there. So what better way to show off for everyone than having a local race? The problem is that, for whatever reason, outside of Daytona, Florida SX races just don't attract a crowd. Take it from me, I've been to Tampa the first time, many Orlando races, Miami (one and done in '89) and a few Jacksonville ones. Very few people showed up and Tampa 2018 was just ok. It wasn't terrible but not like some of the other rounds. Still, because of the location, I would've bet it stayed on for 2019.
– New rounds are Nashville, Denver and Detroit. First off, the entire industry is going to love Nashville. It's a cool city with a vibrant downtown area and chances are good someone from the paddock will get in trouble for public intoxication. Nashville will be a huge hit in terms of attendance and "vibe" is my prediction. I was at the last Denver race in 1996 and it wasn't very good as the track couldn't touch the football field so it had to go around the outside. I'm betting that won't happen this year and the race should be interesting as it's up there in terms of altitude. Detroit is eeeehhhh. Whatever, the stadium is nice, the pits suck, the area surrounding the stadium isn't great but it's close to Canada (more on that below) and we're going back so yay for Michigan.
-Salt Lake City race never really worked in my opinion. It's a small stadium, it's usually cold (it snowed there mid-race one year!), attendance isn't great and dirt is lacking as well. But the series went there year in and year out for a while. What I had heard is that the city gave Feld some nice breaks on rent to bring the race there and that makes sense since we always saw the governor of the state being interviewed and involved in the race. So guess the subsidies went away because it's gone.
-I can't believe we're still going to Oakland… Good dirt but garbage stadium. I bet the guys from Feld pay $200 for rent. I can't see any good reason to go there. Well, maybe the good dirt.
– The series rotates New York and Boston each year and I think I speak for everyone who travels the series in saying that the New York round is better. And it's back for 2019 so cool! New York City is epically awesome.
– February 9th is Minneapolis. Bring your winter jackets everyone!
– Still no Toronto and that's a shame. My home country race started off weak but grew in attendance each year until it was packed. The pits kind of sucked but it was a cool city to visit and the racing was pretty good. What I've heard from my people in Toronto is that the baseball club (who run the dome) got some new management and they are not that down with events being held in the dome outside of a few mega-concerts. Plus they are doing some press box renovations so maybe that's why Toronto has been gone and not on 2019. Boooooo!
– I'm glad there's just two Anaheim's. Having three for all those years is just one too many. Two is perfect. Kicking off there is a must, right?
– As much as it's awesome to go to new cities like Nashville and Denver, you gotta feel for the folks in St Louis. They've had a race every year since 1996 and it's always amazing dirt, but there's also no denying the dwindling attendance the last few years and maybe that's what did it. The people there were hardcore fans but they were getting smaller and smaller in recent years so I get it.
– As mentioned, details are sparse on Triple Crown races but there are three of them. Should be more but, hey, change doesn't happen overnight, right? There are eight amateur races and I hope they don't make the tracks as easy as they did last year because with no arenacross, amateurs are getting their SX licenses from these races. If they make the tracks so easy that Cobra 50's can clear all the jumps then not much experience there for guys, right?
The Feld guys have a tough job with the schedule, they have to try to hit all the markets that work, try to fit in new ones to expose the sport to new fans and need to make the travel schedule somewhat make sense. It seemed that 2019 was perhaps one of the harder years to do that but overall, the additions seem like a good time and let's drop the gate.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi