Monday Kickstart | Moto Fite Klub Hype & Pro Racing Update
It’s time to go racing. Sort of. We’ve made the trip to an undisclosed area on the East Coast (swap in a plane, Anton in a car) for the first-ever Moto Fite Klub. The brainchild of industry do-all Rob Buydos has been made possible by his close circle of friends, who happen to be former pro racers and higher-ups at promotional firms, it’s a head-to-head battle with stars of various decades that’ll be shown online as a pay-per-view event. The money spent by fans watching the stream will then be divided out to a selection of organizations, including the Goggles For Docs that is helping those on the frontline of the current health crisis stay equipped and the Road2Recovery foundation that supports action sports athletes in their time of need. It’ll be a much-needed break from the doom and gloom of the everyday world, plus a chance to see bikes on the track as we wait to hear the fate of the year’s professional racing calendars.
The lack of publically-known details about Moto Fite Klub, either on purpose or due to the fact it was together in a matter of days, adds to the event’s mystique. We were told just the basics to get our travel booked, like the hotel everyone is supposed to stay at, which was an attempt to keep the details from becoming common knowledge which could motivate fans to show up and ruining the social distancing element necessary to pull this all off at all. During our run to a nearby coffee shop this morning, we bumped into Ryan Sipes and asked when he was headed to the track, only for him to say that he was still waiting to get confirmation of the address. That one of the guys who could win the whole thing this doesn’t know where he’s racing could simply be a coincidence, but it’s an indication of the unique situation that we’re taking part in.
We know very little about the track that the race will take place at, but the details we know seem to be important. Since some of the guys don’t ride as often as others, plus the age differences between guys like Broc Glover to Jake Weimer, everyone agreed that a basic layout would best. So no, don’t expect this to be a High Point-RedBud-level National, but more like a local track that will allow the rider’s natural talent and decades of dedication to shine. Lap times should be quick, which will keep the battles close and will encourage guys to dice it up in their chance to advance through the bracket, without tiring them out unnecessarily.
Monday is supposed to be a quick practice for the guys to shakedown their bikes and to loosen up after the cross-country travel that practically all of us had to do to get here. We say “supposed to be” because rain hit the area on Sunday and a cold front dropped temperatures to the low 40s. The gray skies and chilly weather are adding to the vibe that we’re seeing something special. And yeah, we’ll need that campfire to stay warm later tonight. About that…
Last week swap called up all of the competitors for a special episode of the FLY Racing Swapmoto podcast and for two hours, the guys explained details of how they were roped into the race, what bikes they’ll be on, the gear they’ll wear, how much they still get a leg over a bike, and so on. But the one thing that everyone seemed equally excited about was the chance to catch up with each other between laps. Remember that most of these guys have lifelong relationships which date back to their amateur days and they’ve had their share of intense races over the course of their careers. Now adults and well into their post-racing lives, they live all around the country and only see each other a handful of times a year, at best. Monday night’s roundtable talk with all 10 guys around the fire will be their chance to talk a little pre-race smack, have a drink or two, and go into detail about moments in their racing careers. It’s a free event, so be sure to tune into that. What else do you have going on?
As good as the racing should be, we’re equally excited to see the threads and bikes that guys have. Remember, we’re talking about racers that were at their peak during the era of custom painted helmets and iconic gear combos, plus modern machines. The guys have gone to great lengths to make sure they look just as good Tuesday as they did years ago, including one-off lids and re-creations of their favorite kits, and many of those items will be put in an eBay auction that will go live on Wednesday morning. The proceeds from the auctions will be put into the charity donations. We’ll throw a gallery of the items up once they guys open their gear bags.
Look, this isn’t a normal race. But is anything normal right now? Embrace the strange right now and tune into the race on Tuesday if you have the chance. When was the last time that riders of this caliber were able to ride together, without the ambush of race-day obligations for sponsors? Exactly, never. The riding will be great, of course, but the biggest draw in our opinion is that we’ll finally be able to see and hear what these guys remember about their careers, particularly the strange moments, in a lighthearted back and forth banter. The address to the track just got sent our way, so it’s time to jump in the car and check it out. Check back soon for more…
STILL WAITING FOR FINAL WORD ON PRO SX & MX
Oh, you want some more details about the status of the Monster Energy Supercross Series and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship? For the second straight week, we waited for a final word about the seven-race plan to conclude SX, only to see nothing publically be announced. That doesn’t mean there was a lack of progress, though, and we learned some more details over the last few days that give us equal reasons for hope and concern.
First, the good news. Feld Entertainment is still working towards its goal to get everyone in one place for a sprint to complete the full championship and riders are gradually increasing activity in their weekly routines so that they will be ready for the late-May/early-June start date. Another detail of good news is that State Farm Stadium isn’t Feld Entertainment’s only option for a venue; the promoter has pitched their plans to other states and venues in case Arizona is unable to meet the criteria set by health experts. Options are always good and in this case, could be what saves the program entirely. More states have loosed their stay at home orders, or will do so in the next few weeks, and actual racing is starting to take place around the country.
On Friday night, the World of Outlaws sprint car series held their first race since the COVID-19 shutdown started, something that was made possible thanks to multiple factors. The race took place in Iowa, which has been “progressive” in their reopening plans, but the number of competitors and crew members was limited, fans were not permitted to attend, and strict social distancing guidelines like hand sanitizer in every rig and limited contact was enforced. Possible to watch only via live video broadcast, it was a sign of what we can expect to see when/if Supercross resumes. The rows of seats at Knoxville Raceway were completely void of spectators, the only time that people were allowed to take their masks off was when they were being interviewed on camera, and even then, the reporters and racers kept their distance by keeping a microphone on a stand six-feet apart from each other. The World of Outlaws will travel to Missouri for another set of events in a few weeks, but these will allow a limited number of fans (only 700 tickets were sold for each night at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, five of which were purchased by Anton). So yes, real racing is happening in certain places and that should be something in Feld and MX Sports’ favor.
The bad news is the same as it’s been since the start of this all, which is that the situation is completely unprecedented and prone to change at any time. Regardless of your personal analysis of the data, the federal government has stated that there will be more positive tests and deaths as a result of the situation, with June perceived as the peak time. How serious this becomes, and how all levels of government officials react, will ultimately determine if the races are allowed to happen at all. Will certain states go back to their lockdown measures or will they push forward? Will the stadiums, which are often owned or managed in partnerships with the local government, be available for the amount of time required to complete the schedule? Despite a lack of conflicting sporting events, that’s an issue that needs to be factored in. The Nationals have a similar issue because there are only about a dozen places around the country that are considered capable of holding a pro race, thanks to things like their infrastructure and stable status. With states like Michigan, Washington, California, and New York still airing on the side of caution, tracks in those areas (RedBud, Washougal, Fox Raceway, Glen Helen, Unadilla) could very well be taken out of consideration.
So yeah, we’re still in the same situation, but every passing day brings us closer to the deadlines for final decisions. MX Sports intends to announce their 11-race series later this week, while Feld’s statement has to come at some time in the next 10 days (Feld must have a small of time between the announcement of the series restart date and the actual race in order for riders and teams to get to the venue). As always, stay tuned for more.