Does anyone else find it funny that it’s our nature to hate change? Hate may be a strong word, but we fear it to the point that it can make you angry. I struggle with it, but I think I’m better than most because of motocross. Motocross is constantly changing in little ways that being able to accept, work forward with it, and embrace it has become somewhat normal to a moto enthusiast. Could you imagine being in the period when you had to slice your bread? Then they invented sliced bread. I’m guessing, at that time, people were like, “why do I need it sliced? I can do that myself.” Then, they realized how much better it is sliced. The amount of time saved over one’s life would be unbelievable if you sat and worked out that math. Not everything changed works out, but it’s learning to try, see if shit sticks, and aim towards making it work that counts.
This sport that we all love so dearly and steals our passion has changed dramatically over the years. I could go into the US and the GP series because when change occurs there, it usually trickles down to Canada, and we just become another follower. But Canada did have one thing unique in the early days: almost everyone rode the 125, 250, and 500 classes at the beginning of their careers. This was worldwide, but to be an AMA champion or GP world champion, you picked your division/class. In Canada, the CMA made each rider race two classes at the majority of the nationals. Days were like 125/250, 250/500, and 125/500. Like Pederson, Hoover, Dyck, and more, these icons raced 4 motos every national weekend for 30 minutes plus 1 each time. Could you imagine the days of 125/500? I mean, what a difference between bikes, right? This worked for a while, but when CMC (which became CMRC) began, they limited it to just 125/250, no 500. This was a big change. They got rid of a National championship class in the snap of a finger. Of course, it came with controversy and blowback. But in the end, it made sense, the 500 disappeared, and just two championship classes emerged as the leader. CMRC carried this championship and series in this format for just under 25 years (on the pro-national side – they started in 1991 with amateur racing).
In 2000 the series saw a change in the 125 class, making an east-west series allowing for more of a local type feel to the ever-growing Canadian National series. Some could say this is the best the series had ever seen with so much more support for riders from local shops. From 2000-2007 the entry list at some nationals truly showed the decision was the right way to go. It made heroes out of racers for just four weekends, maybe five, and then they could still go back and support their local race scene. Those years saw enormous growth in the sport.
In 2008 the series took a risk and changed back, making the prior east-west 125 series a combined national-wide class. At the time, the idea was that the industry was booming. Still, the teams were finding it a pain having too many riders on their teams and having extra parts and bikes to carry. One series made sense on budgets. So, they made the decision. This change erased some local teams that could afford to race 4 or 5 weekends, but now with it becoming 9-10, their budget wasn’t there. Looking back, maybe this change wasn’t the right call. But in the same breath, the manufacturers liked it because they had fewer people to deal with or chat to. All team money and support were going to fewer people but still getting full gates.
The most recent change was the series switching from CMRC to Jetwerx. It’s coming onto its 5th year after the swap, and it’s safe to say it has gotten way better. The early years were quite the scramble, and loads of us, including me, an employee, were very frustrated. But in time, the frustration has wavered and now leaned towards a more understanding approach. No matter what change is made, big or small, the one making the call is taking a risk. With such a wide personality range in racing from parent to vet to kid to sponsor or even to a race fan, it’s impossible to make everyone see what you see. It’s always easy to sit on the outside and look in with an attitude, thinking, “This is only for them to make money” or “I’m getting so screwed with this change” or “I would do it way different if I was the person making that call.”
I can share some of my thoughts on this as a race promoter. I try to make changes as I see fit for the sport and the growth with the data collected and conversations had with supporters or members. You hope it works for all in every decision, but it never does. I cannot tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had just making decisions on stuff concerning my local event. It frustrates my wife to no end because she sees the impact it has on our home from her point of view. For me, I get it. I have taken on the role of a business owner: leading a plan and moving forward with it. Now I would guess this happens to everyone no matter the job. Elon Musk must have to make some crazy decisions that change so many lives and then right down to the local ice cream shop owner who worries if he puts out black cherry or tiger tail ice cream instead of cotton candy. How’s it going to go? A local politician or town member with the pull to change a stop sign or increase/decrease a speed limit sign in an area. Changes can scare folks quickly enough where they just don’t believe in a product or the person making the change.
In moto, as long as I can remember, the majority of the people in a position worthy enough to make a change are doing it for the right reason. Our sport in Canada is filled with good people. Family-oriented people who see value in what the sport can bring to them and others like them. Change is no doubt tough to swallow sometimes. I was a bachelor living the Charlie Harper lifestyle from the show Two and a Half Men at one point in my life. Now, I have three kids and a wife and have never been happier. Change can be really, really, F#$%@# good!!