News 29 Jun 2024

Why an AUSX Open Supercross revival is significant for the sport

International-scale event in the works for 2024 return to Melbourne.

Plans have been formalised to revive the ‘AUSX Open Supercross’ following a five-year hiatus, it has officially been revealed. Already shaping up to be one of the most significant events in the sport’s history within Australia, it will likely double as round five of the re-energised domestic series and be staged on an international scale.

Initially introduced by Adam Bailey and former business partner Ryan Sanderson in the tight confines of Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena towards the end of 2015 as the AUS-X Open International Supercross, the globally-regarded event moved to Melbourne inside the world-class Marvel Stadium precinct for 2019.

Despite a largely successful first appearance that year, the AUS-X Open model was later abandoned when Bailey and Sanderson – along with then AUS-X Open chairman Tony Cochrane – opted to form SX Global and take on the World Supercross Championship (WSX) rights in a decade-long agreement with the FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) for 2022. The pandemic stalled anything in between.

Image: Supplied.

WSX under that leadership group was sensationally short-lived, however, with Cochrane the first to depart as founding president following just two pilot events in 2022, followed by Sanderson exiting at the beginning of 2023. Bailey had remained as SX Global CEO until April of this year, before moving on to form an independent consulting business under Bailey Sport & Entertainment.

While SX Global – still an Australian-based company owned by overseas investors – had hosted events in Melbourne during 2022 and the brief, three-round 2023 season, it was announced last week that the WSX Australian Grand Prix would instead be shifting to Perth later this year – a decision that has been well-received, especially since neither the national motocross or supercross series visit Western Australia.

That move fell in line with widespread speculation that plans to resurrect the AUSX Open were in the works, this time understood to be directly managed by AME Group, which operates the Fox Australian Supercross Championship (AUSX) with Kelly Bailey – wife of Adam Bailey – at the helm. It’s unclear if Adam Bailey will be formally involved in a consultancy position or otherwise.

A series of social media teasers were launched on Saturday afternoon alongside a website place-holder confirming that AUSX Open will definitely return, however, with a slightly revised logo that will bring the event more in line with the AUSX series, rather than previous AUS-X branding.

Image: Supplied.

It was also curiously reintroduced as @ausxopensupercross on Instagram, which is a separate handle to the @sxopensupercross account previously associated with the AUS-X Open, along with the S-X Open International FIM Oceania Supercross Championship that included a similar event in Auckland, New Zealand, during 2018 and 2019.

The latter social media account – including a presence across both Instagram and Facebook – also featured as the WSX account under the @wsxchampionship handle (confused, yet?) during Bailey’s stint at SX Global, but instead continues to sit stagnant with almost 200 thousand followers. That decision raises the question of whether there is a wider motive to host international-scale supercross events in the region moving forward.

Reviving the AUSX Open could spark an unparalleled step forward for the sport on a national level, considering it would complement the bolstered Australian Supercross Championship series under AME Group management, as well as the thriving Penrite ProMX Championship led by Motorcycling Australia (MA) since its introduction in 2021.

While information on the 2024 AUSX Open Supercross is still limited at this point, sources suggest that Marvel Stadium will be the venue, once again with instrumental support from the Victorian state government. AAMI Park – still a possibility? – had also been linked to the event at one stage, but the lack of a roof has been regarded as too much of a risk in hosting a supercross of this magnitude. It will have to be a late November/early December date.

Image: Supplied.

Like in the past, there is almost certain to be a strong international flavour in a bid to attract fans from interstate and potentially beyond. Retired Australian icon Chad Reed was a constant starter at AUS-X Open races in the twilight years of his decorated career, effectively passing the torch to newly-crowned AMA 450SX champion Jett Lawrence when the pair were both active in the 2019 edition.

Successfully landing the Lawrence brothers – Jett and elder brother Hunter – off the back of their vast achievements in America with Team Honda HRC among additional US-based A-listers would be the ultimate objective for AUSX Open organisers, which would solidify the event as the premier international race on the 2024 calendar in this country, regardless of Ken Roczen and co. lining up in WSX. Commercially, the opportunities and associated relevance are at their absolute maximum.

Still, whether a high-profile homecoming featuring the Lawrences does eventuate or not (and for those unaware, AME Group is also the business behind both the Jettson and Hunta merchandise brands), finishing the AUSX championship on a high in Melbourne with immense Visit Victoria resources will be paramount to the series’ ongoing sustainability, and the AUSX Open Supercross itself has long been missed. Add in what’s proposed with WSX back west and it could be a win-win for all.