As a Grand Prix motocross fan, I don’t see anything wrong with the way the sport is run by Youthstream. In the eight years I’ve been following the sport, it seems to get more professional every year. Why does MXA always slam the World Motocross Championship every chance it gets?
We appreciate the talent of the men who race the World Motocross Championships. They are excellent racers and deserve all the credit they get. But, Youthstream, now called In Front Racing (and run by Giuseppe Luongo’s son), does not deserve any accolades for what has happened to Grand Prix motocross under their watch. Need examples?
(1) All the glitzy infrastructure, high-rise pit building and hospitality areas have been paid for with money taken away from the riders and local race promoters.
(2) It’s no secret that under Giuseppe Luongo, MXGP charges such exorbitant sanction fees that most of the traditional tracks and clubs have been priced out of the market. Occasionally, like at the British or American Grands Prix, Luongo will cut the promoter a good-guy deal. Why? Because he is concerned about becoming an irrelevant “Third World Motocross Championship” with the only promoters who can afford his reported $650,000 sanction fees being countries with government handouts. It’s no surprise that MXGP has been going to Indonesia, Argentina, Turkey, China and fishing for a possible Iraq, Iran or Kuwait deals (after Qatar went away)—these countries pay the full price.
(3) Unlike in the glory days of Grand Prix motocross, Youthstream does not pay the riders start money, travel money or purse money. You read that right; in the GPs, the riders do not win a single red cent. Formerly—between the purse money, travel money and start money—a Grand Prix privateer could earn $35,000 upfront. No more; Luongo took that money away.
Purse money is important. It is the just reward for a rider’s hard work in the service of the race promoter and Youthstream. If an American rider wins 7 Supercross events he earns $84,000 in purse money (it is a drop in the bucket to the $700,000 he gets in factory wins bonuses). If a rider won all 17 rounds of the Supercross series, he would bank $204,000 in purse money. But let’s not focus on the winners. A rider who finishes 22nd in every AMA 450 main event would pocket $24,055 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? And we think that the American riders should be paid more — much more in the purse money. How much money does a Grand Prix rider make for 40th, 22th or 1st? Zero, zip, squat, nada.
(4) Don’t fall for his claimed replacement for travel money. Youthstream is only offering a freight subsidy to the top teams, but to get that the freight subsidy, which is far from enough compensation (paid only in a weight subsidy) to cover the team’s expenses to go to a fly-away race in China or Indonesia, the teams can only get the freight subsidy by booking through Youthstream’s appointed travel company, which eliminates shopping for a better freight deal.
(5) The small private teams can’t afford to fly to Asia for three weeks. Just putting up the team for 21 days in Asia, plus paying the full freight costs for their equipment (because they aren’t high enough in the results to get Youthstream’s subsidy) is too expensive. The end result is that on average about 16 riders travel to the Asian fly-away races—which means that the starting gates are half empty and local Indonesian or Chinese riders earned Grand Prix points for getting lapped three or four times. At the 2019 Indonesia GP, four riders, who raced with Indonesian licenses, earned GP points (some as many as 13 GP points).
(6) Under Luongo’s control the rule book has been rewritten on occasion to favor certain companies and riders. For example, when Jeffrey Herlings won his second 250 World Champion, the then-rule was that he had to move to the 450 class (as those before him were forced to do). However, that rule was changed so that Herlings could stay in the 250 class. Why? Because KTM didn’t want to put Herlings in the 450 class while they were winning it with Antonio Cairoli.
When Herlings finally moved to the 450 class the “Two Championship” rule was reinstated. Additionally, on a whim the 23-year-old rule, which forces 250 riders out of the class on the 23rd birthday, was ignored when Luongo wanted to have women race in the Muslim countries. So, Youthstream dropped the 23-year-old rule for women and sent a 25-year-old former Women’s Champion to the Muslim GPs.
(7) It should be clear that we are not unfairly slamming Youthstream/In Front/Luongo when we point out that under Giuseppe Luongo’s watch, the riders had their start money taken away from them, had their purse money eliminated, and had to race on questionable tracks when great tracks were sitting unused by the GPs because those tracks didn’t have government officials willing to hand over sanction fees of up to $650,000.
(8) We wish we could write accolades about MXGP’s business methods, but they stink. We don’t slam them every chance we get, because we aren’t in Europe, but if we don’t tell the truth, who will? Certainly not the lap dog GP moto-journalists that Luongo has under his thumb.