Motocross Racing from Days Past

It didn’t take long after the invention of the motorcycle for someone to ask the question, “Want to race?” It was the beginning of a thirst that still exists today. Whether it’s the thrill of competition, the surge of adrenaline, the possibility of danger or a combination of it all that lures us to race isn’t entirely clear. But for over 100 years something has driven us to throw our leg over a bike, open up the throttle and barrel down a track at lightning speeds trying to beat the next guy, just for fun. And we love every second of it.

With so many different styles of motorcycle racing, there is no shortage of ways to compete and no shortage of events to watch when not racing. We want to know what your favorite style of racing is, either to compete in or to watch. We’ve highlighted a handful of different types of racing styles and provided a basic overview of each kind – and set up a poll to see which type of racing you like the most. Check it out!

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Supercross

Pre-Race Supercross Practice

Supercross races take place on man-made courses generally constructed in stadiums or arenas. The crowd typically watches from assigned seats as the riders navigate around a track full of obstacles such as jumps, whoops, sharp curves, and short straightaways. Supercross races offer fun and challenging laps for the riders and exciting views for the spectators as well.

The Monster Energy Supercross series consists of 17 rounds from January-May throughout the US and race results are based on a points system. Whoever has the most points at the end of the series wins. There are two classes: 250cc and 450cc. The races for the 450cc class are as follows: two six-lap heats where the top four riders in each advance to the main event; two six-lap semifinals where the top 5 riders in each advance to the main event; one four-lap Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) for the remaining riders where the top four advance to the main event. 22 riders compete in the 20 lap main event.

The 250cc Lites class races consist of two heat races with the top nine riders advancing to the main event and one LCQ where the top four riders advance to the 15-lap main event for a total of 22 riders.

Motocross

Motocross Race

Motocross takes place on a man-made course that has been built into naturally existing terrain instead of a stadium or arena. Again, riders face obstacles on their dirt bikes such as whoops, jumps, hills, and tight curves that have been placed throughout the course to challenge them and make things interesting for the spectators. Spectators can basically watch from almost anywhere around the outside of the track as it generally spans across large, open areas. There are many race organizations across the country who have their own motocross circuits and organization specific race rules. Classes are defined by age of rider and size of bike.

Lucas Oil Pro Motocross begins their 12-round series in the end of May and runs through August. In this race series as many as 40 riders line up at the gate for each moto (or race). Two motos will be raced, each lasting for 30 minutes plus two laps. Whoever is in first place at the end of the two laps wins the moto. Points are again accumulated throughout the season and whoever has the most at the end wins. There are still two classes – the 250cc and the 450cc classes.

Endurocross

Conquering the Logs in Endurocross

Endurocross is a test of skill for certain. A mixture of racing styles such as supercross, off-road and trials racing, endurocross races take place in an arena or stadium setting with man-made tracks that present very difficult obstacles. Riders must traverse sections of track that incorporate in various obstacles mimicking off-road terrain such as small rocks and large boulders, off-camber logs, water and mud sections, wood piles, tight turns, multiple tire obstacles and more.

Race rules, classes and specifics all vary depending on the endurocross organization. Typically classes are divided by age, bike size and skill level. There is usually a women’s class as well. Number of laps, heats and time spent racing again vary, but several laps are to be expected for a heat. Race scores and overall winners are calculated off of a points system.

Off-Road Racing

(GNCC, WORCS, Desert, Hare and Hound, etc.)

A Rider Tackling a Mud Bog During a GNCC Race
Off-road racing is the ultimate test of endurance. Riders compete on courses that mostly occur across natural terrain including – but not limited to – mud, water holes, rocks, logs, and sand. They may also have obstacles such as those found in motocross or endurocross tracks built into them as well. The distance of off-road racetracks can span anywhere from just a few miles to hundreds of miles with fuel stops and checkpoints along the way.

Racers are split into a wide range of classes depending on age, bike size, skill level and gender. Depending on the race organization, course distance and course accommodation, multiple classes may be run at the same time and scored separately from one another. Rules vary for each individual organization and racing style, but scores and overall winners are determined by a points system.

Hillclimb

An Almost Successful Motorcycle Hillclimb

Hillclimb races are a competition where riders follow a designated course up a steeply graded hill occurring on natural, sometimes rocky terrain. The motorcycles generally sport an extended swingarm and other modifications to help keep the bike steady and propel it up the hillside.

Rules vary depending on the organization, but typically a hillclimb event is broken up into classes based on engine size; for example: 250-450cc, 451-700cc, and 700cc-Open, as well as mini, women’s and veterans classes. There are usually different levels such as semi and pro for riders to be classified as well. Winners of each event are typically the riders who made it over the hill the fastest, or who made it the furthest up the hill in the fastest time. A points system will determine overall winners in a series. Unlike all of the previous races discussed, hillclimb racers are generally sent only one or two bikes a time up a hill. Riders are typically entitled to at least two runs up the hill during an event with the better run counting as the overall score in the final results.

Road Racing

(AMA Pro Road Racing, MotoGP, World SuperBike, British SuperBike, etc.)

A Rider Leaning Through a Curve During a Road Race

Road racing is known the world over as one of the premier ways to race motorcycles. Riders most often compete on smooth asphalt tracks that incorporate in various turns and/or elevations. The speeds the racers reach are different for each category of racing – typical races reach well over 100 mph with speeds commonly exceeding 190 mph.

As with the previous race types, distances and laps raced in road racing vary depending on the organization and class type. Typically racers make between 12 and 25 laps around a track during a race, give or take. Classes are generally determined by bike type, bike size and engine size as well as modification allowances and restrictions for the motorcycle. Winners are determined by points accumulated throughout the series by the order of their finishing placement in each race.

The Legacy Continues

Racers Lining Up at the Gate

From the earliest days of motorcycle racing to the widespread practice of the sport today, one thing is clear – the love of motorcycle racing is never going away. As Richard Childress once said, “Once you’ve raced, you never forget it…and you never get over it.” So keep on throwing your leg over that bike and giving the throttle all you’ve got. Someday you might just be the heritage that future racers look back on. Let us know in the comments below why you love to race, and don’t forget to vote on your favorite type of racing!

By Rachel Bretzing