new SX rules, drug testing, 94db, more weight…etc

New Sound Limits

The push to get to 94db should be no surprise to anybody. The races are basically held in concrete and metal boxes, and one of the biggest complaints from Supercross patrons is the noise. The former Live Nation (now Feld Entertainment) crew worked with the AMA and FIM to reduce the sound to 94db, and they’ll be using both the FIM’s sound testing standards and methods of testing.

Drug Testing

For Supercross ’09, the AMA will also adopt the FIM’s anti-doping policy for both recreational and performance-enhancing drugs. If you go to http://www.fim.ch/en/default.asp, you’ll download a PDF with the guidelines, both for what’s not allowed, and drugs that are allowed to treat various ailments, so that riders can stay within guidelines. There will be a separate committee similar to what the Olympics use (WADA). It will be an independent organization that could show up at a race, or without warning on the doorstep of a rider. They can take random samples from riders—basically whatever they deem necessary—with no input required from the promoters or sanctioning body. Yep, it’s an expensive undertaking, but it’s also one that they believe is necessary.

Class Structure

This is one of the areas where we’d heard plenty of rumors in recent months, but here’s the scoop. The East and West Lites classes remain intact, and the Supercross class in ’09 will be an open displacement class. Only homologated machinery can be used (no hybrid engine sizes.), so you could find 250 two-strokes, 250 four-strokes, or the usual 450 four-strokes. Also, Lites riders from either coast can jump to the Open class during races on the opposite half of their schedule…but on their 250Fs. For example, an East rider could show up at Anaheim 1 to get Supercross class experience against the premier class riders, while using their already familiar 250F equipment. The same goes for the Lites West guys during the East series.

It’ll be up to the American distributors and independent teams to figure out what’s best for their programs, but watching riders cross back and forth to different regions while riding a 250F, rather than having develop a 450 for a handful of races should be interesting indeed. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens late in the season when teams battling for the Supercross championship start looking for riders who can help their cause.

Tracks

The Feld Entertainment crew have commissioned some of past champions to help develop tracks, so you could see a Travis Pastrana-inspired St. Louis track, or something from Jeremy McGrath, or a Ricky Carmichael-designed circuit. There’s also a possibility that the top five riders from the ’08 season will get a chance to design a track. The remaining few? That’s up to Feld Entertainment, but with a unique mix of old school designs, and very technical new school stuff, it should give a different flavor in all the 17 rounds this season.

They’ll also continue what they started last season at Anaheim 2, with the retro design…and (drumroll please) there may be a water crossing this year. While it won’t be mud, there may be sand and water in one of them. One of them? Hmm…

Numbers

You’re going to see a new policy adopted where the Supercross Champion and the Lites East and West Champions will be required to run the number one plates. That will make it easy for the casual fan to identify the champions on the track, and it also helps the American distributors showcase their riders. For example, Chad Reed will be running the number one in ’09, but will still hold onto his familiar 22, and return to it when he’s no longer champion.

Weight

For the last 20-some years, minimum weights were intended for 125 and 250 two-strokes. There are no specifics yet, but the weights of the bikes will likely be adjusted for today’s modern machines… upward. That’s a move to make them safer, as well as less expensive for the teams to build. Currently, the factories are throwing magnesium, titanium and carbon fiber on top of an already expensive machine. They’re hoping that by boosting the weight limits it will balance the field, as well as reduce the cost of racing somewhat.