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Professional motocross riders are athletes who have advanced to the highest level of competition in this risky but exhilarating sport. They are considered outstanding athletes with exceptional physical abilities, endurance and competitive instincts, among other talents. Professional motocross riders usually compete in big national and international races, where they can win prize money throughout their careers. Endorsement deals can also increase a motocross rider’s salary.
Pro motocross doesn't come with an "average" salary. Top riders can make $12,000 for a single race, compared to $16,405 annually for a rider who finishes dead last in every race in the season.
Cash Comes From Multiple Sources
Professional motocross riders' salaries depend on their success on the track, though there are other factors to consider as well. According to Motocross Action Magazine, professional motocross riders make their money through a combination of race wins, purse money, team salaries, endorsements and championship bonuses. Those who are just starting out work as privateers and may have to supplement their income with other work. As they begin to make a name for themselves and win major competitions, pro motocross riders can increase their annual salaries.
Supercross Salary for Twentieth, Fortieth and Tenth Place
If a professional motocross racer finished twentieth in every AMA 450 race, according to Motocross Action, he would make an annual salary of $36,295, as of 2015. That compares with $16,405 in winnings for a rider who finished fortieth in every race in one season – or dead last. If, however, he finished tenth place every race, he would earn $52,700 in prize money and bonuses.
Champions Make Top Dollar
Professional motocross riders who consistently perform well in competitions and are well known in the sport can make high salaries on par with other pro athletes. Top competitors such as James Stewart and Chad Reed typically make well over a million dollars a year in prize money alone, not counting commercial sponsorships. At the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series, the purse payout was a total sum of $86,807 paid to the riders. Top rider Marvin Musquin won $12,000. Not bad for a day's work.
Handsome Pay From Endorsement Deals
Paid endorsements or sponsorships can be extremely lucrative in motocross racing. Sponsorship deals with companies that produce bikes, gear, energy drinks, apparel and other items related to the sport can pay handsomely. These companies pay athletes to appear in commercials, print advertisements and promotional events. They also pay them to use their products in competitions and wear their company logos. Top endorsement deals can be worth millions of dollars but are only available to outstanding, highly successful racers.
Expenses Eat Into Pay
Motocross riders who don’t receive gear through endorsements must purchase their own gear. Professional bikes alone can cost thousands of dollars. Motocross riders must also purchase helmets, eyewear, protective padding, gloves and other essentials. Many competitions require a registration fee to compete, and recreational training tracks also charge money for use of their facilities. These expenses should be taken into consideration, particularly early on in the career.
Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.