One of the biggest misconceptions about the AMA Supercross series is that it doesn’t pay very well. Naysayers, often European GP defenders, always point to the fact that AMA riders outside of the top ten don’t make very much money. This is true and untrue–it depends on what your definition of “very much money” is.
Just to wet your whistle—Ryan Villopoto made $151,540 in purse money in 2013, $1,000,000 in race win bonuses (at $100,000 per win), $100,000 from the Supercross points fund and a $1,000,000 Championship bonus from Kawasaki. His total winnings for the 2013 Supercross series were $2,251,540. That does not count his multi-million dollar Kawasaki salary or aftermarket sponsorship deals. But that was last year! How much can a Supercross rider make in 2014?
What if we told you that the typical purse for an AMA Supercross is $104,865 per week (It breaks down as $67,000 for the 450 Main, $19,000 for the 450 Last Chance, $14,000 for the 250 Main and $5000 for the 250 Last Chance). Multiple that times 17 weeks and the available purse money for 2014 is $1,782,705? A 450 Supercross rider could make as much a $205,000 in purse money in 2013? Even a rider who finishes 20th in every 450 main event would pocket $36,295 in purse money? Would you be surprise to discover that a rider who finished dead last, not dead last in the main event, but dead last in the night program (technically 40th place), would still make $16,405 in purse money over the Supercross season?
There is also a $357,755 Supercross points fund that pays the top 20 in season points. The Champion gets $100,000, second gets $35,000, third $25,000, fourth $21,500 and so on to the 20th place 450 rider—who gets $8780
It should be noted that the AMA 250 East/West does not pay nearly as well. There are two reasons for this; (1) The 250 East/West are not AMA National Championship series. They are regional support classes. (2) While the 450 Supercross series is 17 races long, the East/West are typically 9 races. A 250 East/West rider who won nine rounds in a single series would only make $22,500 in purse money (at $2500 per win) during the season.
2014 AMA SUPERCROSS PURSE & BONUS SCHEDULE
WHAT DOES FIRST PLACE PAY IN THE 450 CLASS?
If a rider won every AMA Supercross in 2013, he would earn $205,000 in purse money alone. It goes without saying, but we will say it, that he would also earn $1,700,000 in factory bonuses (at $100,000 per win), a $1,000,000 Championship bonus and a $100,000 Feld Entertainment bonus. The total could be $3,005,000.
WHAT DOES SECOND PLACE PAY?
If a rider finished second at every AMA Supercross in 2013, he would earn $102,000 in purse money. Although factory contracts vary in bonus money after the win bonus, second place bonuses could be anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 for the year. Plus, Feld Entertainment’s Championship bonus would be $35,000. The series total could range from $437,000 to $637,000.
WHAT DOES FIFTH PLACE PAY?
If a rider finished fifth at every AMA Supercross in 2013, he would earn $51,170 in purse money. There would also be a $16,550 pay out from the Feld Entertainment Championship points fund. Total–$67,720.
WHAT DOES TENTH PLACE PAY?
If a rider finished tenth in every AMA Supercross in 2013, he would earn $41,310. The Feld Entertainment bonus for tenth place is $11,890. Total–$53,200
WHAT DOES 20TH PLACE PAY?
If a rider finished 20th in every AMA Supercross in 2013, he would earn $36,295 in purse money. Feld pays a Championship bonus of $8780 to 20th place in the standings. Total–$45,075.
WHAT DOES TO PAY IF YOU DON’T MAKE THE MAIN EVENT?
On a final note, if a rider failed to make the main event (finishing fifth in the every Last Chance), he would make $22,355. And, a rider who finished dead last in the Last Chance every week would earn $16,405.
Now you know the truth. When a rider says that it doesn’t pay to race the AMA Supercross series, what he really mean to say is that it doesn’t pay to race the 250 development class or to not make the main event in the 450 class.