EnduroCross Editorial: 10 Years After

Kit Palmer | December 5, 2013

I’ll readily admit… I was one of those maybe a little skeptical about the idea of off-road racing being held under a roof. That was 10 years ago when Eric Peronnard – the founder of the Bercy Supercross – and Tim Clark announced their intention of doing just that. They wanted to hold a full-on off-road race with some of the top racers of the world competing inside a covered building – and a small one at that. Huh? How can you do that? Many thought no way. It just can’t be done. I was, however, a little more opened-minded about it only because I knew that indoor “enduro” racing had already been tried a few times in Europe (Barcelona to be exact) and had grown into a fairly popular once-a-year event. What I’d heard about the Barcelona Indoor Enduro did seem kind of cool. But indoor off-road racing in America? Hmmm. I had my doubts. After all, off-road racing in Europe is far bigger than it is here in the U.S., so I guess it would make sense that it would draw a decent crowd.

It took a fair amount of persuasion by both Peronnard and Clark to get me to go to that first race at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in 2004. And the fact it was scheduled over the Thanksgiving Weekend also didn’t help a whole lot. That weekend for me is always reserved for lots of eating, trail riding with my family and friends and just plain relaxing. No work. But I eventually gave in. Peronnard and Clark got their way and I’m glad they did. I haven’t missed a single Las Vegas EnduroCross race ever since. In fact, of all the races I attend every year (and there are a few, as you can imagine), the Las Vegas EnduroCross is hands down the one race I look forward to most.

I was blown away at that first EnduroCross race 10 years ago, and I’m still blown away to this day. After 10 years of attending EnduroCross racing, the one thing I’ve definitely learned is that you can always count on some great racing. Make that awesome racing, like last weekend in Las Vegas where Peronnard and Clark were celebrating the 10th anniversary of that first Vegas race. I guess next year will be the official 10-year anniversary (2004-2014), but last week’s race was the actual 10th Vegas EnduroCross race held in November.

Since that first one on Thanksgiving weekend, EnduroCross has grown into a prestigious multi-round series championship, with this year’s championship boiling down to a last-round showdown between extreme off-road extraordinaire Taddy Blazusiak and motocrosser-turned-off-roader Mike Brown. Not only were they tied for the series points lead going into the race, but they were also KTM teammates, which only added to the drama. The 12-lap final that would decide the 2013 EnduroCross Championship was nothing short of phenomenal with the two riders banging handlebars, falling on top of each other and passing each other for much of the race. I had never seen anything like it before. Never. Unbelievable. But it was believable. After all, it was EnduroCross.

When the economy went into the crapper, one of the hardest hit segments in the motorcycle industry was off-road racing. Looking for ways to save a buck, many manufacturers cut out its off-road racing program. And why not, I suppose? When money is tight, I can see why – but not necessarily agree – they might not want to support a sport that happens way out in the woods or desert where no one can see it or the racers’ all-important logos on their jerseys or motorcycles? As a result, many off-road championship series are suffering. EnduroCross, however, has been one of the shining stars in American off-road racing during these tough years. Not only does EnduroCross produce great racing, but it plays out in front of large crowds (by off-road standards). In turn, sponsors love it and so do the riders, they get a chance to do their thing in front of actual people – not just lizards and jackrabbits.

To read more of this week’s Observation Check, click here

Kit Palmer | Off-Road Editor

Kit Palmer started his career at Cycle News in 1984 and he’s been testing dirt and streetbikes every since – plus covering any event that uses some form of a knobby tire. He’s also our resident motorcycle mileage man with a commute of 120 miles a day.