If you were the AMA rule makers what would you propose for engine sizes in the two AMA Pro classes that would not give one engine type an advantage over the other? Since a 450cc four-stroke overpowers a 250cc two-stroke, what size two-stroke would be equal to a 450 four-stroke? Would a 300cc bike be a match? 360? What would you suggest?
It seems strange that the powers that be at the alphabet organization, factory teams and manufacturers don’t see that they are going to have trouble keep their boat afloat if they continue down the same path they have been for the last 20 years. Racing has to become more affordable. We need more people to engage in it. It has to become more accessible to the public. That means looking at the structure of the sport and correcting the flaws of the past.
With that said, MXA would not handicap one type of engine in favor of another. Two-strokes and four-strokes have their own charms—but that doesn’t mean that one needs a big advantage over the other. Handicapping engine size is how the sport got in the mess it is in today. In order to promote four-stroke engines, the AMA gave them a massive displacement advantage in AMA Pro racing. Unfortunately, the AMA guessed wrong on the displacements and four-strokes have now far outstripped the two-strokes they were trying to match. We don’t think that formulas are the way to go.
Instead, the AMA should change the rules to equalize the displacement in both the 250 and 450 classes. The powers-that-be could easily write a rule that says, “The maximum displacement in the 250 class is 250cc regardless of the engine type and in the 450 class it is 450cc regardless of engine type.”
This simple rewording of the current rules would spice up modern racing, by bringing competition into racing not just between riders and brands, but between engine types. It would also provide cheaper racing for teams and or riders on a budget—and while there are no 450cc two-strokes currently in production, they could start with 300cc bikes for now (and just as they did with four-strokes initially, use 450cc as the upper limit and give Open class two-strokes an exemption to allow them to build big bores to compete on). This could encourage manufacturers to pursue more market share with smokers—since they aren’t setting the world on fire with four-stroke anymore. But, if a manufacturer doesn’t want to build two-strokes, that is on them. They should not be allowed to stand in the way of a rule change that encourages two-strokes nor whine about two-strokes after they passed on the opportunity to build them.
But, if you’ve ever met that powers that be, you already know that logical and common sense are in short supply — so sensible rule changes, or any rule change that recognizes the value of two-strokes, will fall on deaf ears.