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Follow Up: Suzuki’s 2009 Amateur Plans

Suzuki Logo

A few months ago, Suzuki announced that they were going to cut their amateur team. When the news was announced, I was extremely upset by the news and greatly felt that it would have an extremely negative impact on the future of Suzuki’s motocross program. Thankfully, Suzuki has now officially announced their 2009 amateur racing plans, and I am proud to present them to you.

Rockstar Suzuki Amateur Team

Ian Trettel Is one of Suzuki's rising stars

Ian Trettel is one of Suzuki's rising amateur stars. Photo by GuyB.

After initially announcing that their support of their amateur team would be eliminated, it appears as if Suzuki has backed off. They have announced that they will once again be funding a Rockstar Amateur team to support some of their fastest riders. Some of the riders on the team will be:

  • Ian Trettel
  • Justin Weeks
  • Jarek Blakovic
  • Jeremy Martin

To see the full list visit Vital MX.

This is an absolutely incredible move for American Suzuki to make. By planning to eliminating their amateur team, they were effectively cutting off their flow of fresh talent to their pro team and ultimately were reducing the number of pros, amateurs, and the number of general citizens riding Suzuki bikes.

By reinstating their amateur program, Suzuki has invigorated the youth perception of their brand and revitalized their potential both on the amateur, consumer and professional motocross levels.

Regional Contingency

Jimmy Decotis, one of the fastest rides to come out of New England in recent years, rides Suzukis. Photo by Paul Buckley.

Jimmy Decotis, one of the fastest riders from New England, rides Suzukis and collects their regional contingency. Photo by Buckley Photos.

When Suzuki announced to cut its amateur support program, there were also a plethora of rumors swirling around the internet that t

hey would be cancelling their contingency program. Surprisingly, I nearly believed them. It made sense, if they were in a dire enough situation to cut their entire amateur team, then cutting contingency was the next logical step.

Thankfully, this is not the case, at all. A few weeks ago, American Suzuki announced their contingency schedule, with hundreds of amateur races throughout the country on the list. While the full details of the program have not yet been announced, it is nice to know that they will be offering contingency in 2009 and (hopefully) beyond.

Contingency is a crucial part of any manufacturer’s marketing scheme. Contingency is important in order to get more people on your brand, ultimately maximizing your brand recognition and the effect you have on the market. Without contingency, many serious local racers would choose other brands as the idea of up to $1000 (for multiple classes) can be intriguing for many riders hit by the current economic crisis.

That being said, it is apparent that Suzuki has cut down their contingency program for 2009. For this, I 100% forgive them. If this is something which needs to be cut in order for Suzuki to survive the recession, I definitely understand, as I would much rather see limited contingency than to see them go out of business.

In addition, it also seems as if the biggest single amateur race in America, Loretta Lynn’s is not on the contingency list. This is definitely sad to see, especially for the elite riders who have the ability to make it to Loretta’s, however, most of these riders will spend the majority of their season at other races and Suzuki’s current schedule will cover almost every amateur racer over the course of the 2009 season.

If you want to see this entire schedule, check out the PDF provided by Suzuki

It is great to see Suzuki stepping up to the plate in 2009 and retaining their amateur program. I believe that it will help thousands of kids throughout the country and help to further push the Suzuki brand in our rough economy. While taking reasonable measures to cut back the costs of running an amateur team, as a whole they are doing some great things for the sport of amateur motocross and hopefully we will not see any more manufacturers even considering cutting their amateur programs.

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Suzuki to Cut Amateur Racing Support Team


A few weeks ago, I posted about the current state of the motocross economy. In the post, I talked about how I felt the motocross economy would crumble from the bottom up. However, it appears as if I may have been incorrect in this thought.

Recently, Suzuki decided to cut their amateur racing support team. In other words, the factory Suzuki team ran by Cole Gress in years past is now debunk. According to AmateurMX on Vital Mx

…Suzuki has dropped their amateur program. In the current economic climate they just couldn't justify the expense of continuing with their current business model. Basically, no more free or discounted bike deals and no more factory trackside support in the fashion they were providing it. And no more factory amateur team.

Suzuki is clearly being strongly affected by the current economy situation throughout the world, and is starting to cut expenses to survive, however, I believe that they are cutting the wrong expenses.

Amateur Riders are the Backbone of the Motocross Community

Ryan Dungey is an example of a rider who Suzuki pulled form their Amateur team to their pro team, and has had great success. Paul Buckley Photo.
-Photo by Paul Buckley.

What Suzuki is failing to realize with this move is that the amateur riders are the backbone of the motocross community, and of their motocross business as a whole. Granted, the amateur racing team only supported a small number of elite amateur racers, the results of this decision will have a ripple effect throughout the industry. There is no denying that Ryan Villopoto has greatly affected Kawasaki's popularity, even before he turned pro. Similarly, Suzuki's upcoming amateur riders, such as Eli Tolmac, Nico Izzi, and the Trettle brothers could have potentially made Suzuki “cool” again. By completely cutting out their amateur team, these riders will almost certainly be forced to another amateur team (Kawasaki's prospering Team Green program, for example), in order to continue racing at the elite level. This, in return, will bring their present and future publicity and fan base to another manufacturer.

The transition from amateur to pro is difficult for even the most talented 16 year old amateur stars. Kawasaki Team Green has managed to make this transition easier by supporting their riders throughout the transition, so they are free of worrying about what team they will ride for. This method has worked really well for Kawasaki as it provides them with a steady stream of talented incoming ri

ders and it benefits their riders by providing them with a solid ride in one of the biggest transitions of their career. Because Suzuki has canceled their amateur racing team, they will be void of this luxury, and will have an extremely difficult time convincing amateur riders to switch from a bike they know and personnel they are friends with, to a new team with a new bike and a new group of people around them. This decision by Suzuki could potentially cost them thousands of dollars, and hundreds of wins by cutting off their steady supply of fresh pro riders.

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Is the Motocross Economy Recession-Proof?

The American economy is currently in a decline.

There is no denying that America is currently in a time of economic downturn. The stock market continues to fall, people are loosing their jobs left and right, and major companies are crumbling. As motocross racers, we rely on an elaborate system of organizations, tracks, and companies to keep our sport going. However, as the economy continues to crumble, an increasingly prominent question in the minds of motocross racers and industry members will be “Is the motocross economy recession proof”

Motocross is a Luxury

Motocross is a luxury in most people's live.s Paul Buckley photo.
-Photo by Paul Buckley.

The first step in analyzing whether or not the motocross economy is recession proof is the realization that motocross is a luxury. The people who truly pump money into the motocross economy, the hard core amateur racers, race because they enjoy it. They are not getting paid, and the truth is that motocross costs these riders a lot of money each year. A lot of serious amateurs may think that motocross is a crucial part of their life, but the truth is, when the going gets tough economically, expensive luxuries such as motocross are the first to get cut out of family's budgets. There is no denying that motocross is a very expensive sport. From the bikes, to maintenance and safety gear, to entry fees, racing motocross can cost a family thousands of dollars a year. As a result, as more and more americans loose their jobs or get their paycheck cuts, they will look to cut the fat out of their budget, and motocross is basically a slab of bacon.

If the american economy continues to worsen, many riders will look to cut racing out of their motocross activities. This transition from racing to practicing is one we have already begun to see throughout New England. The past few years, attendances at races have dropped significantly, however, many shops are still reporting good business, and practice tracks are generally pretty busy. Practicing provides riders with the adrenaline rush of racing, but without the travel, entry fees, and other expenses of racing. In the past few years average attendances of races has dropped from the mid 3 and 400s to right around 200. This incredible drop is due to the added expense of racing, people's desire to save money while still enjoying motocross. The decrease in racing will, and already has, hurt many racing clubs/organizations. They main source of income, race entry fees, has been nearly cut in half, while their expenses have stayed constant.

However, if something is not done in our country to reverse the economic downturn, many riders will be forced to cut racing out of their lives totally. While this is surely not something that most riders would enjoy doing, when motocross comes between putting food on your families table, the choice is clear. The problem that the motocross economy will have if the American recession worsens is that motocross is a luxury in most peoples lives, and something that they would be willing to give up in order to better provide for their family.

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