By now, you’ve surely heard about the “unplugging” of Kawasaki’s Team Green off-road effort – a program that’s been around since the mid-80s. Kawasaki announced last week that after the 2012 season it will no longer continue its off-road program, although it’s continuing its very popular Team Green amateur motocross program. This is troubling news and hopefully it’s not the start of a trend with the rest of the OEMs, although it comes on the heals off last year’s dismantling of the Suzuki off-road program. Sure, Supercross sells motorcycles, but the majority of buyers are off-roaders and the importers would be wise to stick to budgets that support both Supercross/motocross and off-road. As an off-roader myself, I know we all like to buy what Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart are racing (and winning on), but most of us ride them in the woods or in the desert, and not on a Supercross track. A big part of having an off-road team is not just to win races, but also to have a presence at the races – the national enduros, the GNCCs, the hare and hounds, the WORCS races. To have representation at the track to answer questions, show off the latest product and to support the sport. And that’s the key here: TO SUPPORT THE SPORT! For sure, this decision has a greater affect on west coast off-road racing, since Kawasaki was giving virtually no support whatsoever to the national enduro series and to the GNCC series back east. But in the grand scheme of things it affects us all. Part of what brings spectators to the races is the chance to see the factory riders; a chance to sneak a peak at a factory bike up close; and the allure of the big factory rig and neatly dressed mechanics. To a certain degree, factory involvement brings people to the races and it puts butts in the stands. I don’t think this will have a major affect on off-road racing in the long run, but for sure, it doesn’t help.