Giuseppe Luongo interview

Giuseppe Luongo, the leader of the Youthstream organization that runs the Motocross World Championships, and the Monster Energy Motocross of Nations is looking forward to two events as much as anyone, the Monster Energy USGP and the Monster Energy MXoN.

As a young boy, he marvelled at the speed of his hero Michele Rinaldi, and by the time he was a young man, in his early 20s, he was already organizing the legendary Motocross des Nations at Maggiora in 1986. From there it was the magnificent series the Masters of Motocross (which pitted the best in America against the best in Europe), and by the mid-1990s he took over as promoter of the FIM 250cc world Motocross championship, running that series at a level well above the 125cc and 500cc classes. His final step to greatness and another legendary run was to take over the promotion of the MXGP and MX2 world championships, back in 2004. It was a turbulent time, a time of change, and not everyone understood his goal.

As a promoter, there has probably never been anyone better, his hard work, and determined attitude to have the best motocross series in the world has not come easy, and it’s been days and nights of trying to work out the best schedule, not only for the leading riders, but for the youth in the sport. His pyramid, from youth, to the elite.

Now as we stand in the toughest MXGP season of all time, with a 450cc field that has a depth comparable with the golden era of 500cc motocross, and a structure for the young EMX riders right up to the MXGP and MX2 champions. Big crowds, big sponsors, and wealthier riders.

Despite his long history in our sport, and all the hard work, the long hours, and the ups and downs, as a fan, Luongo still gets excited for the biggest events, the MXoN, and the USGP. We talk to Giuseppe Luongo about these two events.

MXLarge: Obviously you released the provisional calendar for 2018, and everyone was very positive and excited about it. We have seen some changes after getting the provisional in the past, obviously countries pulling out for whatever reason. First who difficult was it to get this provisional, how close do you think it will be to the provisional once the season starts, and what stands out for you in the calendar?

Luongo: Making the calendar each year is a very complicated and complex task, because as always we have to keep the weather, the convenience for the travel from race to race, the organizers’ requirements, other local activities, etc in mind, and it’s really not easy to put all this together because: often organizers need the same weekend, or if some venues need to be put one after the other for the best travel organization for the teams but the organizer cannot for whatever reason and want to be 6 months away from the other country, etc, but in the end with a lot of diplomacy we manage to put together a very good calendar every year.  MXGP’s development and prosperity is creating a lot of interest from organizers and circuits from all over the world and now there are 25 requests for a maximum of 20 Grand Prix events, which is great and we want to keep this trend, so we just have to manage it all and put the best venue on the calendar each year because our goal is to keep developing the FIM Motocross World Championships as much as possible.

MXLarge: Eli Tomac and no MXoN. Your opinion?

Luongo: Do you want my opinion as promoter of the MXoN or as a fan of Motocross?  Because my answer as a Motocross promoter will be smoother and more politically correct than that of a fan. Effectively the American riders do a lot of races because 17 FIM SX World Championship events, plus 12 AMA MX National events, plus the Monster Cup makes 30 professional events per year, also the MXGP riders make about the same number of races because they do 20 MXGP events, plus preparation races at the beginning of the season, plus their National Championship races.  If they are doing too much or not is just a matter of opinion – there are 52 weekends in a year and they have about 30 professional race weekends, is that too much?  I only know that in the past, at the time of the ‘Dream Team’, the US riders did many more races than now, because on top of the SX and MX Nationals they did a lot of International races, and they made much less money compared to today, but they were extremely proud to be chosen to defend the colours of their country.  And that’s what the MXoN is all about that, it’s to race for your country and prove the value of your sport in your country, but maybe we are in a world where those values are worth less and less. Therefore, I will not give any opinion about Tomac or any other rider, but what I am sure is that America will be present with their best team possible given the riders available, and those riders will undoubtedly defend their flag’s honours as they have always done in the past.

MXlarge: How important is it to have Team USA involved considering the event will be there next year?

Luongo: It’s very important to have team USA at the MXoN.  Since a long time, history has shown that Team USA is the strongest team, and over the last few years even if they have not won it they have always been on the podium.  The only 2 occasions to see the MXGP riders and the AMA National riders together are at the US MXGP and at the MXoN.  The fans love that, we love that!

MXLarge: A track change for the USGP, but looking at the facility, and talking to the WW Ranch owner, it seems like the change might actually be a good thing. Your opinion?

Luongo: Yes, the change is very positive, MX Sports have done a great job in finding an excellent replacement on such short notice in the same area; as all the airplane tickets and freight had already been booked, the fact to be able to use the same airport was essential.

MXlarge: Getting American involvement for the USGP. How has that worked with the new arrangement with MXsport?

Luongo: Yes, the goal of MX Sports and Youthstream is to organize the best US MXGP ever, we have both made all efforts to have the best US National riders together with the MXGP riders, and Monster has supported us very much with all their teams/riders.  It will be amazing.  I believe the quality of the event along with the presence of all these riders will make for an incredible weekend of MX racing.  Now I am very curious to see how the fans respond, because for this event the investment has been huge and it’s very important to see the fans’ reaction.

MXlarge: The MXoN has grown a lot in the last 12 years since Ernee in 2005, and even more so in the last five years. What has been the secret of its success?

Luongo: I think when something is successful it’s due to not just one but many reasons. I would say amongst the most important would be each fans’ pride for their country, the unique racing, the raving parties, the quality of organization, and all these things put together make the fans want to come and say, ‘I was there!’. This event is something special; at a normal event, the fans come to watch the event, at the MXoN the fans become a part of the event.  They participate with their parties, with their fancy dressing, with their wild enthusiasm towards their flag.  The Motocross of Nations is not only the best Motocross event of the year, it’s the celebration of the year – when you love Motocross you want to be there, you have to be there. The combination of all this is the soul of the Motocross of Nations.  We continue to work to anchor these traditions and to make this event the biggest and best possible, because that’s what makes the MXoN unique.