I want to start by providing some background. 2013-2016 was the best time in the history of the sport for USA BMX prize money and pro racing excitement. There were multiple races a year paying $7000 per day for the win, and we would routinely see total pots of $10,000 plus. These were some of the highest pay-outs in the sport and pro racing was booming in America during this period. When the UCI mandated equal pay regardless of number of entries, USA BMX decided to cut the pay-out, up to 66% for the Elite men. From 2017-2020 USA BMX pay was at some of its lowest in history and pro racing immediately suffered as we saw a decline in participants, excitement, and international athletes coming over to compete. It was a very unfortunate situation for the pros as well as aspiring pros in the older amateur classes.
With that said, 2021 brought about change and a renewed commitment to pro racing in the U.S. USA BMX rolled out an all-new format with things like return to scaled pay, eliminating A pro, and adding the B mains. Was everything they rolled out perfect? Of course not, but I think the focus should be on the fact that there was effort put forth to revamp professional racing and provide an avenue for pro BMX racers to earn a living racing BMX. It will likely take a season or two to work out all the kinks, but there has been progress made, which I think should still be the focus.
Specifically addressing the B mains, I think they are a good idea in theory, however there are some issues with them. The pay-out is such that holeshotting and winning the B main earns you more than 7th or 8th in the A main. Not sure who forgot their calculator that day, but it is an obvious mistake. Also, the fact that the B main has a podium ceremony at all as well as a holeshot award diminishes the actual A main and what it means to qualify for that. I appreciate the promotion of the pros, and we need all we can get, but the rider who places 4th in the A main deserves more recognition than the winner of the B main, and that isn’t happening.
Sylvain Andre on the USA BMX B Finals
‘I think it’s ok to have B Finals. One more lap to gain a few bucks. One more lap represent your sponsors. One more lap to get some experience. If those events had 7 laps like in the World Cup, I’d get it. But racing 4 or 5 laps a day doesn’t make a big difference to me. I heard about the money issue, and yes, I think the B Main winner should make less than the last guy in the Final’.
Additionally, for whatever reason riders are not always showing up. If you are thinking you should be in the A main, don’t qualify and it is day #1 I can see the argument for not showing up for the B main to conserve energy. However, with up to $400 on the line for one extra 30 second lap, if you don’t show up you should never complain about not getting paid enough ever again as you are turning away an opportunity to earn.
Something that could entice riders is to build in points for the B main. For USA BMX, only top 6 finishes earn points. By restructuring the points system and adding a small number of points to the B main riders may be interested in trying to move up in the rankings. Just make sure it is less points than 7th or 8th in the A final!
Is it perfect? No. Is there a concerted effort to try new things and build professional racing back up? Yes. And for that we should be happy and work together to make it as good as possible for everyone involved.