Motocross racers ride in one of two classes in the American Motocross Association. The classes are set by the size of motorcycle the rider uses in the race. The first class includes 125 cc two-stroke and 250 cc four-stroke bikes. The second class has 250 cc two-stroke and 450 cc four-stroke bikes. Races are held all over the world, and some races include national teams racing against other national teams. The average salary for a motocross racer is dependent upon many factors.
The motocross racer can earn a percentage of the prize money offered at each event. For instance, a competition in July of 2011 at Gopher Dunes, Canada offered amateur riders prize money and gift cards totaling over $48,000. The professionals can earn substantially more. Some of the prize money comes from donations made by local businesses that provide services to Motocross racers and fans. The prizes offered at Gopher Dunes are not always typical of all Motocross races.
A motocross racer who has a sponsor is part of a team. The team members earn a salary negotiated between the sponsor and the racer. According to Racer X Online, a motocross racer can earn a six-figure income. A racer must apply to the American Motocross Association for professional status. At the time of publication, top professionals can earn more than $1 million during the racing year. However, in 2011, Motocross Action Magazine reported that the purse for a Motocross race is about $66,000 and divided among the riders who are in the race. The last-place racer earns about $400 for the race.
Top racers often earn money from corporations through product endorsements. The amount of money paid by the corporation is negotiated between the racer's agent and the company. There are no average earnings for endorsements. The contract may require the racer to appear in one commercial or at several corporate events. The company uses funds set aside for marketing to gain celebrity endorsements. The larger the company, the more money the racer can earn.
Bike Make and Size
The size of the bike also determines the prize money. In 2011, Motocross Action Magazine reported that the private racer who wins a Motocross race can earn more than $50,000 on a Kawasaki 450 but only take home about $28,000 on a 250 cc Kawasaki. The makers of the various bikes provide a payout for those racers who win on certain motorcycles. For instance, Yamaha pays out $20,000 per race. Some riders, who race for specific manufacturers have a private contingency deal that can earn the racer more than $100,000 for a win.