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Aragon Explains New Deal to NBL Faithful

August 20, 2010 by  

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In a series of live Webinars, NBL CEO Gary Aragon presented the changes to their program previously reported on Sunday by BMX News. Aragon also answered questions typed in by attendees.

Since the news broke on Sunday morning at 10AM Eastern Time, the VintageBMX.com message board has been the defacto town square for discussion on the changes. All points of view have shown up to the discussion, with some foretelling the imminent demise of the NBL within months, and others saying “Watch out ABA!,” and literally every shade of grey in between.

Much of what was reported in the Sunday article was also in Aragon’s slide deck for the Webinar. He did fill in some additional detail about the costs of the three levels of membership, and what is included in each:

LOCAL: All-You-Can-Ride local racing at any outdoor track in the Nation with no entry fees. There may be indoor fees to cover the added cost of indoor facilities depending on track. There may also be trophy fees depending on track. Includes both 20” and Cruisers! Includes access to Pre-races at Nationals and Entry into the President’s Cup.

CHALLENGER = All the benefits of the LOCAL membership PLUS All-You-Can-Ride Challenge Championship Series racing with no entry fees (Editor’s note: The “Challenge Championship Series” is the new name for the NBL Regional series). Includes both 20” and Cruisers! Includes the Challenge Championship and All Challenge Championship Entries.

CHAMPION = All the benefits of LOCAL and CHALLENGER membership PLUS All-You-Can-Ride National Series racing. Includes both 20” and Cruisers!

The pricing matrix of how much all this will cost was also brought into sharper focus, with multi-member discounts for families (called “Single, Duo, Trio and Quattro” for households with one, two, three or four or more members, respectively). They also announced attractive discount to sign up for the new membership (or convert your existing membership) by January 1, 2011.







One attendee asked if households could mix & match membership levels, and still qualify for the multiple membership discount. “No, each member must be on the same level of the plan.” Said Aragon.

Gary then moved into laying out the NBLs proposal for how tracks will be compensated under the new system.

NBL will pay the track $5.95 per entry at local races (so if someone rides cruiser and 20″ they get $11.90). No pay for opens. Track can charge a “Trophy fee” and can also charge for practices at their discretion. Indoor tracks can charge a facilities charge to defray the extra costs associated with running the facility. In addition to the $5.95, the NBL will pay 25 cents per local entry into a state fund, which will be turned over to the state organization to help fund the state series.

Tracks can also hold special “fundraising” races for which they can charge an entry fee.

BMXNEWS asked the question which has been a hallmark of the detractors to this plan: “If, for a local membership, you are taking in $10.26 per month, and people are racing two bikes, three times per month, which equals $35.70 paid out to the track, how is that sustainable?” The answer given was that “actuarial math” was being used to factor these calculations, and Aragon assured the attendees that these numbers had been run, and run comprehensively before announcing the plan.

The NBL also announced a Performance-based incentive for tracks who book larger races next year than their average headcount in the 2010 season. Tracks running five races above their 2010 average will receive a bonus of $250, 10 races above average will earn $300, and 15 races above average will earn a $500 bonus. Local tracks will also receive a commission/bonus for signing up new members. This amount will range from $5.00 for a single “Local” membership, to $72 for a “Quattro” pack of “Champion” memberships.

It was also discussed that Teams would be eligible for discount, bulk-pak, memberships. “News” had some questions on how, exactly, this will work, and has submitted those to Mr. Aragon for further explanation.

The discussion then turned to Proficiencies and Moveups.

Gary explained that, because of the connotation that the term “Novice” carries (as a person with little experience in a given endeavor), the class would be renamed to better suit those who race it. Novice will now become “Challenger” Class.

In addition, the Super-Ex class (which is the lower Pro class in the 2010 NBL) will be renamed A-Elite, and the top pro classes for men and women will be renamed AA-Elite.

The term “SuperX” will be retasked to a new class that was described by Aragon to be the NBL’s “Youth Development” class (for riders 14-16 years of age, based on birth year). He continued to say that USA Cycling has acknowledged NBL’s program, and they are “working on access for NBL riders to the Olympic Training Center.” Riders in the SuperX class will petition the Director Of Competition (DOC) to request entry into the class, and from that point on, they will race the three-age-combined SuperX class instead of their single-age expert class.

As previously reported, all riders finish the year in the proficiency they started in, unless they specifically petition for a reclassification up or down. An attendee asked how long a reclassification petition might take to be considered, and the answer was “About a week.”

Proficiency move-ups will now be decided, not by wins, but by “Gate Drops.” This way, everyone in a rookie class is gaining moveup credits for every race they ride–something that seems to be quite popular, in the face of the storied, “7-year rookie” A total of 40 gate drops and a minimum of one year racing is required for a move from Rookie to Challenger. Challenger to Expert Moveups are a bit more complex, with two years, 100 gate drops, AND the rider being in the 90th percentile of his class. It still was a unclear to “News” what sample would be used to determine a given rider’s percentile (would it be all riders that age, all national riders of that age, all same-aged riders at a given rider’s local track, etc.).

NATIONAL SERIES

A great deal of time was spent, in the 2 and a half hour webinar talking about the National series, and what its new form would be.

For 2011, there will be 20 national weekends. Of the 20 weekends, they will be divided, five each, into the following race types:

5 – Super ProAm
5 – ProAm
5 – Mixed Doubles
5 – Team Spectaculars

The concept of a ProAm National may, at first, seem a little awkward (or downright objectionable) for longtime BMXers. We are used to a “ProAm” being a race where pros and amateurs race, elbow to elbow, for a monetary prize. That is NOT what this is.

In the 2011 NBL National series context, a ProAm (or Super ProAm) is a VIRTUAL Team Sheet where all riders participate, regardless of age, proficiency, gender or wheel size. Riders are automatically entered, and are assigned, at random, to a grouping of other amateurs and ONE pro. These groupings will then be posted on the motoboards, so people can see who else is on their team for that day. The concept, according to Aragon, is to get people talking to other people at the track. If you have a 12 Challenger, a AA Elite, a 45 Cruiser, a 12 year old girl and a 14 Expert on your ProAm team for that day, you’re going to be watching their races, and cheering them on…because if they do well, your team could win the purse for the day.

For the five Super ProAm races, the purse is $4,000. The pro on the team will be awarded a “lion’s share” portion of the purse, and the amateurs on the team will split the remaining amount. Elites will be paid in money, and amateurs will be paid in US Savings Bonds. The Five Pro Ams will have a $2,000 purse.

A “Mixed Doubles” race is the same format as the ProAm, except that girl racers are used in place of Elites (There will not be a Pro Open at the Mixed Double races).

A Team Spectacular is a regular National weekend with a $2000 Team purse per day. It was not clear as we post this if the $2000 would be for just the Factory Team division, or if it would be split with the Bike Shop Team.

The crown jewels of the new NBL National series are intended to be the five NBL “NationsTour” races. On four weekends (plus the Grands), the Tour will pay out an Elite purse in excess of $40,000, with $8,000 going to the Elite winner and $4800 going to the Elite Women winner. Elite-A and Masters winners will each get $1800. Elite-AA riders will pay a $300 entry fee, but no separate NBL membership fee is required. Elite-A and Masters riders will pay an $80 entry fee (at non-NationsTour races, the entry fee will be $75 for all Elite classes).

In the “National Championship Series,” riders must still have six scores to qualify. Rookie classes will be offered at the National Championship Series races, but Rookies will not be plated. Some of the qualification and scoring details:

Challenger Class (Novices)

Four (4) of the Six (6) races must be NBL National Championship Series races and two (2) may be NBL Challenge Championship Series races. In addition, a rider must have three (3) local, races to qualify.

Riders will be scored based upon the best six (6) total scores; two (2) Challenge Championship Series race may be used for calculating points.

Experts

Four (4) of the Six (6) races must be NBL National Championship Series races and two (2) may be an NBL Challenge Championship Series races.

Riders will be scored based upon the best six (6) total scores and one (1) may be an NBL Challenge Championship Series race.

SuperX (Youth Development 14-16yr olds, by birth year)

Six (6) races must be NBL National Championship Series races and NO NBL Challenge Championship Series races will be used for qualifications.

Riders will be scored based upon the best six (6) total scores and NO NBL Challenge Championship Series race will be used for calculating points.

REGIONAL SERIES

The Regional Series is now known as the Challenge Championship Series, and will be 20 races total. In all, 16 of the races will be held simultaneously in four regions on the same day. Rookies will be plated in the Challenge Series. Some Qualification and Scoring details, lifted from the Slide Deck:

Qualifications:
Each rider must have a total of ten (10) race entries with a minimum of one (1) NBL Challenge Championship Series and five (5) local, single-point races to qualify.

Any other race, ie. local, state, Challenge, or National Championship Series, can be used for the remaining 4 races to qualify.

Riders will receive quad points for one of their Challenge Championship Series entries and triple points for one of the National Championship Series entries. The pre-race at each series will remain a triple local point race. The Regional Championship will continue to count as a qualifying races for the National Championship Series for that current season’s Grands.

Scoring:
Riders will be scored based upon the best six (6) total scores; however, only one (1) double point, (1) triple point and one (1) quad point race in calculating their score.

“OVERALL AMATEUR AWARD”

Based on a total points calculation, NBL will award an overall Amateur Champion at the Grands on Sunday (2011). It was not clear if ALL points (local, regional and national) would be used to determine this winner, or if only National Series points would be used.

TEAM SCORING

Teams will now be scored using the international standard” for team scoring, which counts motos, mains, bonus points for quarters and semis, and Grands Bonus points.

SUMMARY

Overall, the response in the Webinar was quite positive, and acceptance seems to be growing as these radical changes sink in to the party faithful. Still, many are adopting a “wait & see” posture, and others (mostly in the West where there are few-to-no NBL tracks) are meeting the news of these changes with a shrug.

The Vintage discussion is still at full flame (over 950 replies and 45,000 views), and specific discussions have ben started for things like teams, and State Series questions/concerns. Come on over and join in the fun!

—Mike Carruth

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