BLACK & WHITE: WHY ?POINTING OUT? OF THE EAST/WEST IS CONTROVERSIAL
Broc Tickle pointed out of the 250 West, but rebounded with some solid 450 rides for Pro Circuit and will now ride for the Ricky Carmichael Suzuki team in 2013.
When the 125 East/West Supercross class was founded in 1985, there was no need to worry about riders staying in it for the rest of their professional careers. Why not? Because the 125 East/West was limited to AMA Junior and Pro/Am licensed racers. Back in the Byzantine days of 1980s, there were three different kinds of AMA Pro licenses. The highest was the “Expert” ranking, which was reserved for riders who had earned 80 points, held an AMA Expert dirt track or road race license or had won a World Championship. “Junior” ranked Pro riders weren’t Novices; they were AMA Pro riders who had not earned 80 points or been World Champions. The “Pro-Am” nomenclature referred to riders who were neither Experts nor Juniors?and were racing AMA Nationals and 125 Supercross events to earn advancement points.
When the 125 East/West class was founded, the established stars, who were all Experts, could not race the 125 East/West, so there was no such thing as “pointing out” of the class. Once you became the holder of an AMA Expert Pro license, you were out. Unfortunately, this system didn’t stand the test of time.
THE GENESIS: “Pointing out” was added to the rule book when it became obvious that many professional racers were intent on staying in the 125 East/West (and given that the series was created to give young riders a leg-up in becoming premier Supercross riders the idea of a full-time development rider was foreign to the concept). The best-known pointing-out rule was written to make any rider who earned 100 points for three consecutive years move out of the class. Under this rule, the average 125 East/West rider would be able to stay until his skills improved, but the fast guys would point out. This worked with confident riders who wanted to move up to the Premier class, but became a shell game for the riders who were milking the system. Many riders, of whom you would be surprised to learn their names, took dives in their third season to avoid earning 100 points (because if they failed to earn 100 points for three consecutive years, they got to start over with three additional years). And by taking dives, we mean they blatantly threw races to avoid getting 100 points.
REWRITE: Starting in 2007, the rule was rewritten to say that any rider who earned 135 points (in a nine-race series) or 120 points (in an eight-race series) for three years would be ineligible to race the 125/250 East/West. The word “consecutive” was dropped.
CHAMPION RULE: If a rider wins an AMA 250 East/West Championship, he can only stay in the class for a maximum of three years. Boiled down, that means if a rider wins the 250 East or 250 West title in his third year of earning 120 (or 135) points, he has to move out of the class. This is what got Broc Tickle kicked upstairs for 2012. Additionally, if a rider wins the 250 East/West Championship twice, he doesn’t get a third year.
STEPPING STONE: One of the reasons there are special rules in the 125/250F East/West class is that it was always seen as a stepping stone. And because it is divided into two separate divisions, it is not considered an AMA National Championship class. It is, at best, a regional title; thus it isn’t a series that the AMA wants a rider to be racing for nine or 10 years.
OUTDOOR RULES: Riders can point out of the AMA 250 East/West series, but they cannot point out of the AMA 125/250F outdoor National Championships. This wasn’t always true. There was a time when a rider was only allowed to win the AMA 125 National Championship twice before he had to move out of the class.
CHANGES: There are two viable options for the 250 East/West classes. The first is to eliminate the East/West divisions and have one, 17-race, 125/250F Supercross Championship. Then there would be no need to point riders out. It would become a National Championships series and the twin brother to the AMA 250 outdoor Nationals (and as a corollary, the 250 Supercross class would be paid the same purse as the 450 Supercross class ? which is not the case under the current system).
The second idea, proposed many times by Roger DeCoster, is that the East/West classes have an age limit. Once you reach that age, you have to move out. This is not so far-fetched, because the FIM 250 World Championship has a 23-year-old age limit.