Courtesy of Sharon Cox
Without a doubt Europe’s Women MX World Championship is pulling in talented Women Riders, increasing depth of field from the young, fresh Dutch teenager 16 year old Lynn Valk, to the seasoned racers of Nancy Van de Ven, Larissa Papenmeier and Kiara Fontanesi.
WMX commands opportunity for Women racers around the world to compete at World MX Championship GP’s within MXGP structure over course of 5 MXGP calander Rounds for 2019.
America’s Women MX National Championship has upon announcement end of 2018 been relegated to run WMX at AMA Amatuer National MX Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee.
This means, the long-running US Women’s Pro MX Championship which has raced Rounds at selected AMA Pro-Outdoor Nationals since 2009 now puts Women Pro and Amatuer riders through Area and Regional Qualifying to race for Women’s National Title at Loretta Lynns.
Stepping back few bike lengths to examine how such different WMX Championships in Europe and America have played out, a re-cap of both industry’s heavy-weights sporting trajectory clarifies present day events.
Europe’s WMX Championship began with Women’s World Cup in 2005 with Germany’s Stephanie Laier winning first Title and NZ’s Katherine Prumm (now Oberlin-Brown) winning in 2006-2007. From 2008 FIM World MX Championship incorporated WMX as World Championship, to present day running 15th WMX Season in 2019.
America’s Women Motocross riders competed from early 1970’s racing men Pro-Outdoors with first Women National event- ‘Powder Puff National Championship‘ in 1974. Nancy Payne won the first Women MX Title at ‘Powder Puff Championship’ which consisted of Women racing heats to qualify for main race in the evening- and event has run consecutively to present day.
Mercedes Gonzalez was America’s first and only Women MX Champion record Title holder winning 9 National Championships and 5 Loretta Lynn Championships from 1985 to 1991 followed by Jessica Patterson record of 7 National Championships from 2000-2010.
In 1996 Women’s Motocross League (WML) was founded and petitioned for inclusion in AMA Pro Motocross Championship which led to creation of Women Motocross Association in 2004 and sold to MXSports in 2009. The change, named WMX was now fixture of AMA Pro MX Nationals till end of 2018.
Through incorporation of WMX Championship in Europe and America, Women Riders have succeeded at many levels: competing in Women MX Championship Series at World and National MX Championships gaining exposure of talent, skill, technique and race-craft prowess in male dominated sport.
Given heightened awareness of Women MX Riders professional profiles, Brands, Teams, industry sponsors came on board, secured contracts for WMX riders to race on both sides of the globe. Women siezed their stake on promotion of endorsements at race venues: made possible within MXGP structure of Media feeds to fans along with MXSports focused communications promoting AMA Pro Nationals and track venues.
I could never forget the explosion of American fans screaming with amazement on seeing NZ’s Courtney Duncan smashing AMA Women’s Pro MX Triple Crown class at Hangtown in 2013, on her YZ125cc.
Or, witnessing Italian Kiara Fontanesi winning her 6th Women MX World Championship Title in 2018.
So, when WMX in MXGP entries of talented youth riders are increasing, what is the root of America’s WMX National Championship cancellation?
From research, speaking with America’s Women MX Champions- past and present, along with analysis on AMA Pro Nationals – one thing stands out as disruption to what is at stake- Women gaining industry support to race.
In 1972, America held Nations first ever Supercross race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum– billed ‘The Superbowl of Motocross‘. And the rest is history.
Facts confirm- it was a great success, and the following year too- evolving into AMA Supercross Championship held in stadiums across the United States. Promoted by different companies in the West and East, by 1998 the single AMA Supercross promoter SFX Entertainment was on-sold couple of times to eventual current promoter of the Championship Feld Entertainment in 2008.
No doubt, AMA Supercross Championships have emboldened Motocross/Supercross Riders careers. Making racing both AMA Pro Nationals and AMA SX Championship financially lucrative for Riders willing to race best part of 9 months per calendar year.
All the while splitting the fluctuating economical Motorsport pie to break-out point.
Women MX Championship riders, aiming to race AMA Women’s Pro Nationals were target of decreasing industry support for class which didn’t match crowd number pull at AMA Supercross. Fall-out: WMX entry numbers fell, to unsustainable level to justify WMX Championship by end of ‘018.
To add to mix of happenings, Europe’s WMX Championship peaked at 8 Round Series in 2012, now reduced to 5 Round Series 2019. Reasons, a couple, one that stands out is MXGP tier sytstem of EMX Championships provide feeder Riders to premier MX2 and MXGP classes.
WMX does not. There is no feeder class WMX Riders can aspire to race in. EMX Championship 65cc, 85cc, 125cc, 250cc, 2-stroke classes attract huge numbers of would-be future Champions- the hall-mark of Youthstreams World MX Championship success- past, present and for the future.
At present, WMX Championship riders have earned recognition within the sport, industry, racing for results at World MX Championship and AMA MX National level. Europe’s WMX Cup, then WMX Championship has legacy of great WMX Champions who set precedent for young, aspiring female racers to achieve victory on the track. Equally, America takes pride in the Nations history on the ground-breaking spirit on Women riders, challenging traditions to enable Women to race against men, and against their peers.
A possible take-out from all above- a MXGP-WMX flyaway Round in USA. Now, that would spark plenty of never-been-seen-before WMX action for Women racers and everyone else around the world.
Header photo: Jordan Jarvis 2018 AMA Women Pro National Champion.