Michael Porra’s open letter about Chad Reed and Super X

I had hoped that I would not have to enter a public discussion regarding the business of Super X, but following the twitter and radio comments made by Chad Reed and his junior PR executive, Matt Cousins, I am compelled to set the record straight.

I will start with Chad’s comment “Dude straight up told me to my face that he didn’t need me! I didn’t make a difference.”

This is simply untrue and makes no sense.

The only reason I took on Super X in the first place was because Chad was my partner.

The fact is that Chad was contracted for 3 years (the 3rd year in 2010 was ‘best endeavours to race,’ which in legal terms means he must race unless he is injured or faces financial ruin if he honors his agreement).

We had built the entire operation in 2008/2009/2010 around Chad racing, including all costs and all budgeted revenue.

Despite our desperate pleas for Chad to honour his agreement in 2010 (including an offer to pay substantial uncontracted additional fees), he did not turn up after the first race in Newcastle.

As a result, 2010 was a financial disaster and we were forced to liquidate that company and with it the partnership with Chad. Obviously, by his non-appearance Chad had made it abundantly clear that he wanted no further part in the series. We had, we believe, an open and shut legal case against Chad for breach of contract, but chose not to pursue this out of respect for his American manager, Steve Astephan, with whom we have a strong relationship.

Never at any stage did I tell Chad I did not want him. The truth is quite the opposite, with Chad failing to honour his commitments to the company and the sport. This was 100% Chad’s decision to walk away. Chad also says I told him “to his face,” yet Chad had not spoken to me since 2008 and we had no direct communication of any sort for the last 2 years of the partnership.

Chad next stated that the “smallest crowd when he was riding in Super X was 10,000, and now it’s like 1,000”. This is also blatantly untrue.

In year 1, 3 of the races were well under 10,000 (Adelaide, Wollongong & Townsville).

In year 2, 6 of the 7 races were well under 10,000 (average of between 6 & 7,000), with only Brisbane at 10,000+.

This year, none of the races have been 1,000, as stated by Chad. In fact, 3 of the first 4 races were 400% higher than Chad’s stated figure.

Chad continues to be highly critical of the race formats, recently tweeting “All the riders will be hoping for rain every week just so they don’t have to race some lame 6 lappers or some stupid survival race.” The simple truth is that our extensive research of fans that have been to our events is conclusive on this. The vast majority prefer the shorter, varied formats than just running traditional 20 lappers. It is interesting to see that our 3 race format was used in the US this year at the highly successful Monster Cup, and I have no doubt that you will continue to see more of this kind of racing worldwide in the near future. This will be the evolution of this sport.

Chad has also been critical of the tracks, re-tweeting this recently – “Just left Melb SX track is lame.”

The tracks this year have used the same quantity of dirt as previous years (apart from Maitland which was reduced slightly because of crowd size). The tracks this year have been well received by teams, riders, fans and even highly knowledgable fans such as contributors to moto websites.

Chad has also been critical of the decision to televise the series on one week delay as opposed to live.

This surprises me because Chad had told me from the start of our partnership that he believed we should not be televising Super X live.

Given the costs of the television coverage, I think we have done the right thing by the industry to ensure a high quality two hour telecast is aired within seven days of the actual event. This is something we could have dropped, given the financial losses past and current, but we have continued to provide this service.

Chad also says that there is “next to no advertising and a dude that has no idea about moto or what the fans expect.”

Again here, what Chad says is untrue.

We have had a solid mainstream advertising schedule in all markets, including prime time TV advertising and several large space press ads in Australia’s three largest newspapers (Brisbane Courier Mail, Sydney Sunday Telegraph, Melbourne Herald Sun) with a combined readership of almost 6 million people, plus heavy radio schedules on networks such as MMM in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.

To say I have no idea about moto or what the fans expect is harsh, unfair and untrue.

I have been heavily involved with moto now for 5 years and FMX for 10 years. I have invested more financially into moto than anyone in the history of this sport in Australia. Let me be clear on this point, my company has invested many millions of dollars into Super X over the past 4 years. Chad was not required to invest in Super X for his partnership (Chad’s requirement was to ride for 3 years). I find it very disappointing personally and for the sport that these untruths are being told. Just because I disagree with Chad on formats does not mean ‘I have no idea’.

One thing I do understand is the fans. As a company, we pride ourselves on our approach to fan research. The projects in the sporting arena which I have undertaken over the years, including the Uncle Toby’s Iron Man, the Crusty Demons live tours, Nitro Circus Live worldwide & Super X have been based around constant and in depth research of the fans of the sport.

We have done this with Super X and the fans have clearly said they prefer the variety and excitement of the shorter formats.

Clearly, this year is a very tough year for Super X. The retail economy worldwide, including Australia, is very tough and we have not been helped by the weather.

For five years now, the series has not come close to breaking even financially and yet we have stuck with the sport and we are doing the best we can. This year will be no different.

I thank all the fans for their mostly very constructive comments on forums (all of which I read), and I know they are passionate to see this sport succeed.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, as this year has been very disappointing, but I can say that I have grown to love the sport of supercross and I am doing everything I can to help make it succeed.