Supercross

From Academic Kids

Supercross is an exciting, highly-competitive sport in which athletes race high-performance off-road motorcycles on man-made dirt tracks consisting of steep jumps and obstacles. Supercross races are held almost exclusively inside professional baseball and football stadiums in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia, but can also take place outdoors, at venues such as the Daytona Motor Speedway.

Supercross was derived from the sport of motocross, and while motocross and supercross are similar in many respects, there are significant differences as well. For example, because supercross events are held in stadiums, the track sizes tend to be smaller than traditional, outdoor motocross tracks. Also, the jumps and obstacles tend to be more uniform, the race lengths are shorter, fan attendance is greater, and the races themselves are heavily advertised, slickly-produced, televised motorsports held inside major cities, unlike motocross events which often are held in rural areas and go untelevised. Modern supercross races are sanctioned and governed by motorcycle associations such as the American Motorcycle Association, and typically consist of a set number of qualifying races, heat races, semi-finals and final races (called the "main event"). Race lengths can range from as few as 6 laps in some qualifying races to 20 laps for the main event. Because the racing distances are shorter than outdoor motocross events, the race duration tends to be shorter as well. Supercross races usually last no longer than 22 minutes, while outdoor races can run in excess of 40 minutes per moto (and in American motocross, a winner ordinarily is chosen by combining his or her best scores from two motos). As a result, a supercross champion ordinarily is thought to have superior technical skills for racing on a very tight track under controlled conditions, while a motocross champion is lauded for having the strength, endurance and courage to race at high speed under extreme conditions of heat and physical exertion.

The term "Supercross" was derived from the event name for the first organized motocross race that was successfully held inside a stadium in the United States. In 1972, racing promoter Michael Goodwin staged what he called the "Superbowl of Motocross" inside the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. That initial race featured many of the top motocross riders of the time. It was such a commercial success that it spawned many imitators, and the term "supercross" was coined to identify similar stadium motocross events.

In the United States, supercross races today are the second most popular form of motorsport (behind NASCAR racing). The American Motorcycle Association awards three supercross championships each year (the 125cc West Champion, the 125cc East Champion, and the 250cc National Champion), and World Supercross Champions are named by other racing organizations around the world. Supercross racing classifications are governed by the displacement of the motorcycle's engine. In the past, championships have been awarded in 125cc (also known as "MX1"), 250cc ("MX2") and 500cc displacement levels, but the 250cc champion is generally considered to be the most prestigious.

Supercross does not enjoy the same popularity in Europe as in the United States, as European motocross stars do not normally compete in European supercross events. The advent of a world championship incorporating most of the American championship, and a few races in Europe, may change this.

Supercross is distinct from the relatively new sport of "Arenacross," which consists essentially of supercross races downsized even further and placed into smaller venues such as hockey and basketball stadiums. The popularity of Arenacross is growing, however, as smaller cities that do not have large football and baseball stadiums can host arenacross races and thereby enjoy one of the most exciting motosports in the world.

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