Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
This title comes from something my 7th grade History teacher used to say all the time. Of course, he was referring to kings and tyrants of history but I think it applies to modern Supercross as well. Looking at modern Supercross bikes, one has to wonder is there such a thing as too much power? Modern 450 bikes make power that could only be dreamed of 10 years ago, even 250’s are getting more and more powerful. At what point is it too much for racers? To ride a 450 these days at full race pace is exhausting, to the point that only a select few can actually do it, meaning that most of the 450 bikes sold these days are actually only using part of the astronomical power that they have. So why then do manufacturers insist on making them more powerful? The answer is simple: Power Sells.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard someone bragging about how little power his or her bike makes, or someone fitting a more restrictive intake or exhaust so decrease power? We like to have the biggest, fastest, and most powerful thing out there. Manufactures know this and cater to it. On top of that, isn’t that what most aftermarket companies focus on, more power? Now there isn’t anything inherently wrong with wanting or making more power, the problem is when we force the human body to try to deal with it on a regular basis as a job, and not only do they have to deal with the insane power, but they have to push even harder. There is a documentary floating around called “Bigger, Stronger, Faster”. It goes into depth about how we as humans are getting bigger, stronger, faster, and not always to our benefit. We can now breed cows that are so muscular due to genetic engineering that they cannot give birth. (Yeah I know it is a bull in this picture.)
We have modern drugs and medicine that can allow us to push our bodies beyond what the natural limits are. We take this and then add to it a dirt bike with enough power to launch a person 346 feet (Robbie Madison) and you have a recipe for disaster. Yes, the bike can survive the impact, after all it is just a machine and machines can be repaired, but the human body is not quite the same. If you botch a landing or a 300 plus foot jump, you die. If you are on a Supercross track and mess up, serious injury or death can occur, just look at Stewart and how long it took him to recover and how easy it was for him to get hurt again.
If you look at almost every other motor sport, only dirt bikes have not really gone through any sort of safety modifications, NASCAR has restrictor plates, MotoGP tried to shrink displacement (it didn’t work, smaller motors mean higher corner speed and you really only crash in the corners) and use a ton of electronics, even F1 racing got rid of turbocharging to make the cars safer. So is it only a matter of time before Supercross catches up to this trend? What can or should be done to keep the sport enjoyable while keeping participants safe?