To millions of motocross racers, the Olympic scoring system is the heart of the sport; it is used at every racetrack in America. Oops! Not true. The AMA 250/450 Nationals don’t use the Olympic system. Instead, they use a math riddle designed to confuse the fans (and the race officials themselves). At 99.9 percent of the races held in the USA, the rider with the lowest combined two-moto score is awarded the victory. All ties are broken by the best result in the second moto, based on the principle that fatigue and track deterioration make the second moto tougher than the first.
The Olympic system is easy to use. A 1-1 score is perfect. Using the second-moto clause, a 2-1 would beat a 1-2. All a fan has to do is add a rider’s first moto score to his second moto score and the lowest total determines what his position is in the grand scheme of things. Thus, a 5-4, which equals 9 points, beats a 3-6 (an equal 9-points but with a weaker second moto). Additionally, a 5-4 (9 points) will beat a 2-8 (10 points). Everyone who ever raced a motocross understands the Olympic scoring system, but believe it or not, the Lucas Oil 250/450 National Motocross Championships uses a scoring system that is so complicated that it stymies the ability of the fans to understand who finished where and, given the sorry state of National track loudspeakers, they can’t depend on hearing the results. The only way that a spectator could figure out the top 10 at an AMA National would be to have a calculator with them. Going to an AMA National is like going to a baseball game and leaving without knowing who won.
UNDER THE NATIONAL POINTS SYSTEM, THE AVERAGE FAN DOES NOT HAVE A CLUE ABOUT WHAT THE RACE RESULTS ARE (UNLESS A RIDER WINS BOTH MOTOS). UNTIL THE AMA STARTS HANDING OUT CALCULATORS TO EVERY FAN IN THE STANDS, CONFUSION WILL REMAIN THE STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.
If the AMA Nationals don’t use the Olympic system, what do they use? The AMA Nationals use the points paid for the season-long points standings to determine race finishing positions of a race. Under the AMA Pro Racing/MX Sports system, first place in a moto pays 25 points, second 22, third 20, fourth 18, fifth 16 and sixth 15; after sixth place, points are paid in single-point increments to 20th place. In the AMA National system, a 1-1 score is still perfect, but it doesn’t add up to 2 anymore; it adds up to 50 (25+25=50)—and now it is not the lowest score that wins but the highest score. Unfortunately, after the first couple places, the system gets cumbersome.
Remember that 5-4 that added up to 9 points? Under the complex National scoring system, a 5-4 finish equals 34 points (16+18=34); however, unlike the Olympic system, where a 5-4 equals 9 and beats a 3-6 or 7-3 or a 2-8, under the current AMA points system a 5-4 would lose to a 3-6, because 3-6 earns 35 points (20+15=35). You guessed it, a 5-4 is also beat by a 7-3 (14+20=34) because of a better second moto, and, miraculously, a 2-8 will beat a 5-4 because a 2-8 equals 35 points (22+13=35). Need more confusion? A 3-6 does beat the 2-8 under the AMA system.
Under this National points system, the average fan does not have a clue about what the results are (unless a rider wins both motos). The AMA expects the fans to be math whizzes. And, until the AMA starts handing out calculators to every fan in the stands, confusion will remain the standard operating procedure.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION
In MXA’s opinion, each National event’s results should revert back to the Olympic scoring system. This system is understandable by everyone who has ever raced or watched a race (and it is obvious that National track and TV announcers need all the help they can get, because they can’t figure out the current points system either). Returning to the Olympic system means that a 1-1 beats a 2-2 and a 2-2 beats a 1-3—however, a 3-1 will beat a 2-2—and so on. This is what the fans understand because it is what they use for their own races. And, as you get farther back in the pack, adding up places makes more sense than counting season points.
Returning to the Olympic system, which was used in the AMA Nationals until 1976, will have no effect on the collection of AMA National points for the Series Championship. That will not change. A 3-1 (20+25=45) earns more points than a 2-2 (22+22=44) when it comes to adding up the season’s points, but the collection of season points is a long, drawn-out affair and should not be used as the basis for the day’s results.
A switch to the Olympic system for race-day results wouldn’t stop riders from getting their season points, or team managers from whining, but the often forgotten fans would benefit by knowing who won the race they just saw with counting the fingers and toes of four friends. The AMA National promoters should help the sport, help the fans, help the TV viewers, and help the TV announcers by using some common sense. Motocross needs to change back to not only the way it was (before 1976), but to the way it is everywhere else in the country.