Kickstart | 2020 Pro Motocross Chatter & Trans Am Vet Classic
We should have been at Southwick last weekend, five rounds into the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. But like everything this year, obstacles and scenarios far out of our control have kept the normal 12-round run around the country and instead, we’re a little more than two weeks away from the potential start date. MX Sports has only confirmed two dates for the summer series, the 2020 Ironman Motocross on July 18 in Indiana and the 2020 WW Motocross on July 25 in Florida, but there is intent to hold races at High Point, Loretta Lynn’s, Spring Creek, Thunder Valley at some time between August and October. It’s nothing that we could have expected at the start of the year, but nothing has been normal since the middle of March, so riding out this uncertainty seems to be the only option.
The Ironman and WW races were announced in early June, while we were in Utah for Supercross, so forgive us for not talking much about it in recent weeks. Cramming two months of racing into three-weeks and all that came with that took our full attention. But that’s not to say we weren’t following the story, as it was a topic of discussion practically every day that we were in SLC. The earliest details were that the races would run on back-to-back weekends in front of fans, thanks to the “progress” that the two states had made in their efforts against COVID-19, but this positive news came with some restrictions.
As we’ve noted earlier in the year, having fans attend an outdoor race is crucial to the event’s financial success. The money from ticket sales is used by the track owner-promoter to cover necessary elements like permits, staffing, concessions, sanitation, utilities, and the pro purse. Yes, Feld Entertainment was able to hold Supercross races without fans present, but it lost them a substantial amount of money (holding the seven rounds in an empty Rice-Eccles Stadium was the only option the series had so they could fulfill their contract requirements with sponsors and NBC Sports in order to get paid) and that’s a luxury that individual event promoters like Washougal/Budds Creek/Spring Creek won’t have.
Getting fans to the track hasn’t been an issue for MX Sports. They’ve held multiple GNCC events with spectators over the last month and helped organize Super Regional Qualifiers to seed amateur racers into classes for this summer’s Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s. The website states that fans will be encouraged to social distance from different groups, that masks and facial coverings are recommended but not required, and that they’ll be free to roam the grounds like usual to see the on-track action. Tickets have been on sale for weeks and we know there are fans that will be at the side of the fence to see the first gate drops of the summer. If all this happens, best believe we’re going to be right there with them.
If you’re a diehard fan that wants a moment with your moto hero, sorry, but that won’t be an option this summer. Limited interaction will be permitted between the race teams and the public, autographs signing sessions are forbidden, the pit area will be closed to the public at all times, and there will be no post-race podium celebrations or interviews.
We’ve been told that media access will be different than year’s past and we wouldn’t be surprised to see teams restrict us from hanging out to their rigs the way we once did. After seeing the lengths that Monster Energy Kawasaki went through in Utah, hand sanitizing stations at every entrance and large signs that excluded anyone from coming inside, we have to think that things like this will remain in place to reduce potential transmission.
With a good chunk of the fans won over, the next challenge will be with teams and health officials, and this is where things get very tricky. MX Sports and the Race Leadership Team have done everything that they could to get to this point of two confirmed races and high hopes of holding others. Their current plan is to announce more races as states enter new stages of re-opening, but the teams have reportedly been vocal in their concerns about the uncertainty of this gradual rollout and unnecessary cross-country trips. For clarity, the teams and OEMs expressed their displeasure when Feld Entertainment would propose new details or scenarios during the SX Restart talks.
Every team is doing as much preseason testing as possible into this three-week break between the last Supercross and first Pro Motocross, but they want to know that their efforts will be reciprocated with a proper race series. They know that a full 12-round tour is out of the question, which is a good thing to some, but the big teams want to run at least six-eight events, to know when and where those races will be weeks ahead of time, and to have a route that’s cost-effective considering the current economic crisis. A recently proposed journey of Ironman-Florida-Washougal-High Point-Loretta’s was not well received, but it might not be an option now (Washougal’s window of holding a race is limited due to permitting with authorities and it closes slightly every day).
If tracks are even allowed to hold events with a large number of spectators will come down to the state authorities and health officials. States like Indiana and Florida have given events the go-ahead, the roll-out plans places for Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Minnesota are ever-changing, and while New York, Michigan, and California have openly opposed anything of this sort in the near future. This is without a doubt the biggest factor that will decide the fate of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Once a state approves a crowd size that will accommodate something of this sort, it’s then on the promoter to commit to holding the race, and MX Sports to slot it into the schedule.
The months of work that MX Sports has put in is now up against another challenge as a rise in positive tests has caused multiple states to reinstate restrictions from their COVID-19 containment plans. Florida’s increase in cases is something to watch closely as we wait for our trip to Jacksonville.
Hope to see you on the starting line at Ironman…
2020 TRANS AM VET CLASSIC
Old guys want to go fast, too. Some of the biggest and most competitive motos at the Swapmoto Race series are with riders that are 25 years old and up, so a while back we decided that it was time to retool the Trans Am into a Vet event for the first part of the race season. Race Series directors Craig Davis and Aaron Cooke were in the planning stages of this year’s race when the shutdown struck, which forced the race to be a TBD on our calendars. As soon as California cleared events to happen and Glen Helen Raceway gave our staff the go-ahead, it was a month-long effort to get sponsors sorted, an all-new course laid out, and riders excited to return to racing.
Our weekend at the track for the 2020 Trans Am Vet Classic will be another unforgettable time, as hundreds of riders signed up for the two days of racing. Eager to put in laps at Glen Helen Raceway and get competitive after the long quarantine, the entry list was a mix of the usual locals in every age division with many of our friends from the industry. It was great to see everyone out and about during the race weekend, which was made even better by the weather change from Saturday to Sunday.
Thanks to everyone for attending and supporting the 2020 Trans Am Vet Classic! Check back for more interviews and photos from the weekend in the next few days…