SHEHEEN: Supercross Riders Exploit Insurance

Ralph Sheheen

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The hot new setup in rider contracts for the stars of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is to bet on yourself. Riders are doubling down on their belief in their own skills by taking out insurance policies against wins and podium finishes.

The top athletes in Supercross are paid bonuses by their teams, manufacturers and sponsors for championships, wins and podium finishes. We have been told that some of the top riders can earn as much as $100,000 for a victory, $50,000 for second and $20,000 for third.

The new idea is to go to a major insurance company — in this case Lloyd’s of London, which appears to be the only organization considering these propositions. The rider then predicts the amount of bonus money he will make and the cap is set based on how much Lloyd’s of London thinks that rider will make.

The racer pays a premium based on  Lloyd’s number is. He pays that premium betting he will win above the premium and earn the difference from the policy.

Some riders are having their sponsors buy the insurance policy. That way the rider doesn’t have to risk his own money, but is still cashing in on his performance. The sponsor is happy, they are still getting the exposure they are looking for by being involved with the athlete.
The rider can’t personally take out the insurance policy on himself. It has to be through a third party.

This got us to wondering if other racers in other forms of motorsports are doing the same. If not, why not?

– Weston Peick of the Joe Gibbs Racing motocross team had a big crash this past November during the Bercy Supercross in Paris. He suffered serious facial injuries when he was run over by another rider after hitting the ground.

We recently caught up with Peick during the season-opening Monster Energy Supercross event at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. The injuries to his face were dreadful. Thirty plates were required to put his face back together. Eighteen of those plates are located below his nose.

Fortunately, he suffered no brain injuries, which is remarkable considering a 250-pound motorcycle, not counting the rider, landed squarely on his helmet. Luckily, one of the world’s top facial surgeons was working at the hospital where Peick was treated.

On top of the injuries to his face, Peick has been dealing with a loss of vision in his right eye. However, while riding on a spin bike, he suddenly started to see static in that eye. He now has a sliver of vision in the damaged eye.

Believe it or not, Peick is holding out hope that he can continue his Supercross career. He told me if he gets his vision back, he’ll consider it. If it doesn’t fully return, then he will be forced into retirement.

– Tommy Johnson Jr. says he suffered the worst tire shake of his 30-year drag racing career during the fourth round of qualifying earlier this month at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The Winternationals lived up to its name with an extremely cold race track, making it very difficult for the teams to get the grip they needed. Instead, the massive amounts of nitro-powered horsepower violently rattled the cars and their drivers.

Johnson’s Dodge Funny Car shook so hard it broke the chassis in two places, snapping the X-bar under his feet. The rear bracing that holds the body to the chassis, the bell housing blow back tabs and all of the entire clutch management system were torn loose, as well.

The Schumacher Racing team fixed the car and Johnson drove it all the way to the semis.

Johnson says the harmonics from the tire shake were so different they actually made his skin sting.

– ISM Raceway President Julie Giese tells us track officials have lined up a full slate of four races for fans visiting the one-mile desert oval in November with the Gander Outdoors NASCAR Truck Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series all on the card during the three-day event Nov. 8-10.

– Autonomous vehicles are happening, whether you like the idea or not. Most industry insiders consider the Tesla Autopilot and the GM Super Cruise to be the two best current systems and they are rated the highest at level-two autonomy.

Just like in racing, the manufacturers can’t get enough testing miles when it comes to developing their systems. In fact, a manufacturer has to run a minimum of 8.8 billion miles just to be validated at level-four autonomy.

If a race track geofences its facility, it can qualify as a test track for autonomous vehicles.

When you need to rack up 8.8 billion testing miles, you will take every testing opportunity available. It’s a great way for a race track to open a new revenue stream with a new style of track rental.

Once the facility is geofenced, it can also qualify for use in a video game. In today’s world where race track promoters need to be creative when it comes to making money, geofencing technology could be a fantastic opportunity to add new revenue.