By Billy Rainford
After a few weeks of website trouble, we’re back in action and firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately, our sport isn’t. Although we’re slowly seeing more and more day-to-day activities getting back to normal, we aren’t there yet.
I had to actually ask Emily if this was the “May Two-Four” weekend! When’s the last time you forgot the first long weekend of the summer season?! I don’t think I’ve ever not known it was a long weekend. I’m sure you’ve all used the movie reference that it’s Groundhog Day, but that’s what it is. Actually, someone on an old episode of Cash Cab missed that reference on Saturday. Brutal. Yes, things have gotten so low I’m now even referencing Cash Cab.
Anyway, I’m sure all of you reading this are used to being at a motocross track somewhere for an early-season race to see where you stand against your competition this year. Well, it looks like we may be able to go to tracks and ride, but racing is still on hold a little while longer.
In case you didn’t know, this weekend is officially called, Victoria Day Weekend, here in Canada.
Here’s the Wikipedia definition of what it means:
Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday preceding May 25, initially in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday it is now celebrated as the official birthday of the current Queen of Canada.
It is informally considered the beginning of the summer season in Canada.Wikipedia
Official name: Victoria Day, French: Fête de la Reine
Also called: May Long Weekend, May Long, May Two-Four, May Run, Firecracker Day
Observed by: Canadians
The weather has finally started to cooperate here in the east. I know they’ve had a picture-perfect spring out west, but east of the Rockies we’ve been struggling to get into low double-digit temperatures and it’s really sucked.
I got an invite to head over to Kristina Sundal‘s dad’s property just under an hour southwest from where I am here at my mom’s place, so we loaded up the #DMXVan and made our way to their track on Saturday.
As we drove south from the Lake Simcoe area called Lagoon City, I couldn’t believe how nice the geography was in the Uxbridge area. If you’re a cyclist or trail rider, you need to head here and have yourself some fun!
The point of the trip (besides simply getting out of the damn house!) was to bring my early 1980’s Fox ‘Yoko’ gear for Kristina to spin a few laps in for fun. Size 30 pants and a medium jersey wasn’t going to be a set that I was ever going to be able to slip into, so I thought it would be fun to let her try it on after all these years and get it a little dirty.
Kristina was the 1994 Ontario CMA Women’s champion, so she didn’t miss this gear by much. OK, yes she did, but still.
I shot a little VLOG from the drive to her spinning a lap or two in the gear that was so small it made it difficult for her to lift a leg in the corners:
We didn’t stay long, but they’ve got a really amazing little private piece of property and track there. You can even see the CN Tower and the Toronto Skyline in the distance and yet you feel like you’re in the middle of the country. It’s amazing and I can’t wait to get back there with Jeff McConkey‘s Yamaha YZ250 2-stroke test bike soon.
Tracks are opening across the country in accordance with the federal and provincial guidelines as to what can happen and when. Check with your local track to make sure they are going to let you get through the gates and onto their track before you load up and head there.
It’s great to scroll Instagram and see images and videos of riders ripping up their favourite tracks.
I think that with the easing of restrictions we’re seeing lately that we should be in for some good news about our Rockstar Energy Triple Crown Tour season when they make their next announcement at the beginning of June. (Fingers tightly crossed.)
Monster Energy AMA Supercross has announced their schedule that will allow for the rest of the 7 rounds of racing to take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Here’s the Press Release again:
Monster Energy Supercross Set to Resume Racing in Salt Lake City on May 31
Seven Made-For-TV Races Without Fans Airing on NBC & NBCSN Will Aid in Getting the Industry Back to Work
Ellenton, Fla., (May 14, 2020) – Feld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will resume racing at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 31 and will run through June 21. The final seven, made-for-tv races will be broadcast on NBC networks without fans in attendance. The Utah Sports Commission, a longtime partner of Supercross, has coordinated our return to Utah.
Like all forms of sports, the Monster Energy Supercross Championship was abruptly halted in early March after completing ten rounds of the 17-round Championship. The last race was held on March 7 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. where Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac earned his fifth win of the season over top rival Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen, both of whom are competing for their first premiere class title with only three points of separation.
The sports industry in the United States, like virtually all industries, is being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Monster Energy Supercross fuels an entire industry and is the primary source of income for thousands, including competitors. With no events, the industry is in severe economic peril. It’s important to the economic infrastructure to get back-to-work. Unlike other professional sports with guaranteed contracts, Supercross athletes, team personnel and many others involved in event and television production are independent contractors.
“We’re excited to continue our work with Feld Entertainment, Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah, and the Utah Department of Health Services. Their continued support along with Utah’s Governor Gary R. Herbert, have made it possible for Supercross’ return to Utah,” said Jeff Robbins, President and CEO, Utah Sports Commission. “We also look forward to showcasing Utah worldwide via Supercross’ global footprint.”
The responsible return to racing will provide guidelines and protocols to competitors and essential staff that complies with all federal, state and local health guidance and mandates. Mitigation efforts include mandated prescreening, testing, temperature checks, face masks, increased sanitation efforts and social distancing to limit contact among individuals executing the events.
The stadium will assist with the implementation and execution of our plan. Supercross, in partnership with the Alpinestars Medical Unit, has a trained medical team of 7 professionals to assist on site.
The racing format has been adjusted to reduce the number of athletes to stay within the minimum requirements and a standard race format will be used for all seven rounds, except for the finale which will be an Eastern/Western Regional 250SX Class Showdown.
Supercross Race Format for Final Seven Rounds:
- 450SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
- 250SX Class – 40 Riders based on current point standings and 2020 top 100 number or combined season qualifying results
- Two qualifying sessions will be held for gate pick
- 250SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
- 450SX Class – Two Heat Races and a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)
- 250SX Class Main Event
- 450SX Class Main Event
In the final seven races, three champions will be crowned – one in the 450SX Class and two in the 250SX Eastern and Western Regional Classes. It is the hope of the series that the final seven races will start to bring some normalcy to race fans by creating memorable experiences through the live television broadcast that continue to bring people together via a shared experience while also uplifting the human spirit, as all forms of sport do.
Supercross athletes have little to no contact as riders race solo against other competitors and wear several protective elements – full-face helmets that cover the mouth, goggles, gloves, jerseys and pants that leave little to no skin exposed, plus fully secured knee-high boots.
Supercross partners Oakley, Toyota and VP Racing Fuels have been lending their expertise to the medical community and first responders by developing and mass-producing protective shields, eyewear and hand sanitizer. This type of expertise that exists within the industry, coupled with Utah’s leadership and Feld Entertainment’s live event experience will all factor in to helping the industry get back to racing while aiding in the recovery and healing process nationwide.
NBC and NBCSN Television Schedule:
Round 11 (East) – Sunday, May 31 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET on NBCSN then 4:00 – 6:00 ET on NBC
Round 12 (East) – Wednesday, June 3 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET on NBCSN Round 13 (East) – Sunday, June 7 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 14 (West) – Wednesday, June 10 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 15 (West) – Sunday, June 14 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN Round 16 (East) – Wednesday, June 17 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm ET on NBCSN
Round 17 (East/West) – Sunday, June 21 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET on NBCSN then 4:30 – 6:00 ET on NBC
*TV schedule subject to change. NBC Sports will present the final seven, made-for-TV races across NBC, NBCSN & NBCSports.com. Races will also be available to domestic livestream subscribers via the NBC Sports Gold “Supercross Pass” and internationally via the Supercross Video Pass.
I spoke with Team PRMX Owner Julien Perrier this weekend and the Canadian-based team is heading to SLC for the 3-week period to close out the season.
I sat in on a Supercross media Zoom meeting on Friday afternoon. Here’s how NBC Sports summed up some of the more pertinent items that were addressed:
Supercross will Require COVID-19 Testing to Access Final 7 Races in Utah
From NBC Sports:
By Nate Ryan
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series shed some light on its protocols for the final seven races of the season, which will include COVID-19 testing for everyone on site.
During a Friday afternoon news conference conducted over Zoom with a few dozen media outlets, Dave Prater, the senior director of Two Wheel Operations at Feld Entertainment, said Supercross has been approved to have 900 people (which includes riders, teams, series officials, media and local venue workers) within the perimeter of its seven events at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
All will sign a health and safety commitment, complete a questionnaire and undergo COVID-19 testing in Utah, including about 800 traveling from out of state for the seven events that will be held between May 31 and June 21. The state health department will conduct the drive-through testing in Salt Lake City with a turnaround time of 48 hours. Test results will be emailed, and a negative result will be required to enter the Rice-Eccles Stadium perimeter.
SEASON RESUMES: Supercross will run final seven races in Salt Lake City
If someone tests positive, they can be retested within 72 hours if they don’t have a temperature over 100.4 degrees. If the second test is negative, they’ll be admitted. Another positive test would mean a 14-day quarantine.
“If an athlete tests positive, it’ll be treated like a concussion or anything else,” Prater said. “They’ll sit out.”
The policy will set Supercross apart from NASCAR, which will return Sunday at Darlington Raceway, and IndyCar, which is back on track June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Those series, both of which also are planning to have roughly 900 on site, are planning health screenings for admittance to their races but not COVID-19 tests. NASCAR cited a lack of testing availability as a reason.
Prater said Supercross also didn’t want to detract from public testing and has been assured by Utah officials that it won’t.
“There were a few of states and venues we were speaking to that initially had told us we wouldn’t have to do the COVID-19 testing but as we got closer, it was 100%,” Prater said. “As PBR did an event a few weeks ago and UFC last weekend, I think it almost goes without saying that sporting events will require this for the near, foreseeable future.”
After securing a negative COVID-19 test result on arrival in Utah, Supercross riders and team members won’t need to be retested during the three-week stretch of seven races unless they leave the state. They will be permitted to stay at hotels, houses or in motorhomes while in Salt Lake City, and there won’t be constant monitoring or tracking of their movements.
“It’ll be tough as far as the cadence of the races to leave and come back,” Prater said. “As far as tracking athletes, they’ll sign a health and safety commitment, and we’ll take them at their word. If you leave the state and come back, obviously if it’s a flight, we’ll know. Other than that, we’ll take them at their word.”
Supercross also will require daily temperature checks prior to entering the event perimeter. Face masks are required at all times on site, and social distancing will be employed.
Other notable items from Supercross’ hourlong news conference:
—Money reduced: Because all seven races are being held without fans, which is Supercross’ main source of revenue, Prater said the points fund was reduced by an average of 22.5 percent per position and race purses for the last seven rounds were reduced 17.5 percent.
“For Feld Motorsports, that’s our main source of revenue is the fans,” Prater said. “We’re doing this as stewards of the sport and for the overall health of the Supercross world and industry. It’s going to be a challenge and has been a challenge, but it’s been a desire from Day 1 to get back to racing. We’d prefer we had fans, but given the current circumstances, we’ll do our best with what the situation presents and move forward.”
—Seven track layouts: Prater said there will be a different track diagram for each race. “With a two-day gap between some of the races, it’s a tight turnaround,” he said. “You might not see as different a track as you would from Indy to Salt Lake. But it will be a different track. The lanes will be the same but with different obstacles.”
If for some reason the final seven races can’t be completed, Prater said the championship would be determined at whatever point is reached.
—Other candidates: Supercross considered venues in four other states (Glendale, Arizona, had been reported as an option) before settling on Salt Lake City.
“It came down to the green light and who would give it to us first,” Prater said. “It helps to have longstanding relationships with the sports commission and governor. We worked our tails off to come up with a plan to keep everyone safe and the residents of Utah safe. That was it. That tipped the scale. Other states worked just as hard, it ended up Salt Lake was one to give us the green light first.”
—Best practices: Though he declined to identify which leagues, Prater said Supercross had been sharing its plans with other professional sports and racing series.
“This whole environment has really pulled everyone together within the industry, not only motorcycling but the sports industry in general,” he said. “We’ve been in communication with multiple leagues, shared our plans and shared their thoughts and ideas.
“But we’re letting the health departments, the CDC and governor’s offices lead the way as far as the plans go. There’s some great insight from other leagues and vice versa. A lot of leagues are watching NASCAR this weekend and us the following weekend. We’ll share whatever we need and help wherever we can.”
GNCC Racing was back in action in Washington, Georgia, over the weekend. If you’d like to comb through some results, here’s the LINK.
2020 Update MXGP Schedule
TO: 2020 Pro Motocross, Loretta Lynn, GNCC, and ATVMX Participants
FROM: The Race Leadership Team (RLT)
DATE: April 30, 2020
SUBJECT: RLT COMPETITION BULLETIN 2020-8:
Changes to Series Schedules
As the state-by-state recovery plans continue to unfold, it is clear that a uniform back-to-business strategy is unlikely. Some states, like Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, are hopeful and optimistic about their ability to reopen businesses in a safe and responsible manner, while other states, such as New York and California, are closed to the idea of allowing any group gatherings for the foreseeable future.
This divergence in recovery approaches mandates significant changes in previously announced race schedules, as series managers attempt to reopen venues for competition, while implementing safe social distancing practices.
The Safe-to-Race Task Force is nearing completion of its assignment. The mission of the Task Force was to develop best practices for the operation of a post-COVID19 motorsports event that complies with state and federal guidelines for safe social distancing, while maintaining the integrity of the sport. These protocols will be shared with event organizers of all motorsports disciplines to assist them as they develop plans with their local officials to reopen their racetracks.
To streamline the workload the Task Force created several committees: Operations, Competition, Information Technology (IT), Medical and Government Relations. The committees will be presenting their reports this Friday and the final Safe-to-Race Tool Kit will be issued on Monday. Over 43 professionals in the motorsports, medical and technical fields participated in the Task Force, bringing an unprecedented wealth of knowledge and expertise to this unique challenge. The Race Leadership Team is confident that the health and safety protocols recommended by this group will greatly expedite the safe return to racing.
In the meantime, is it necessary to announce the following changes to the subject series schedules:
AMA Amateur Motocross:
The remainder of the Area Qualifiers are cancelled and the series will resume under a Super-Regional format (previously announced ‘Plan C’) commencing the weekend of June 6/7 through July 4/5. The format will consist of three different regionals (Amateur, Youth and Vet) in each of the eight regions. MX Sports is currently working with organizers to develop a schedule to accommodate this plan and will announce the dates and locations next week.
The Pro Motocross schedule is currently under revision. The opening round is postponed to July 4th and the series will run through October 3rd, with dates and locations to be announced as soon as possible. Currently the number of rounds remains at 11.
GNCC Racing representatives are working closely with local officials and landowners in the states of Georgia and South Carolina. These states are actively developing reopening guidelines and are welcoming responsible group gatherings. Although it remains tentative, it is the plan of GNCC Racing to resume competition on May 16/17 at Aonia Pass MX in Washington, GA (same location as round 3) and then on May 30/31 at a location in South Carolina. Social distancing guidelines and best practices for the series are currently under development and will be announced soon.
The dates and locations of the known rounds are as follows:
|May 16/17||TBA – GA|
|May 30/31||TBA – SC|
|Aug. 1||Loretta Lynn eMTB only|
|Sept. 12/13||Mountaineer, WV|
|Sept. 26/27||Snowshoe, WV|
|Oct. 10/11||Mathews Farm, PA|
|Oct. 24/25||Ironman, IN|
The Pro-only round of the series previously set for August 28th in conjunction with the Ironman motorcycle national has been canceled as a result of the change of the Pro Motocross schedule. The event will not be rescheduled.
The remaining schedule follows:
|May 23/24||Ironman, IN|
|June 6/7||Muddy Creek, TN|
|June 20/21||Walnut, IL|
|July 11/12||Unadilla, NY|
|July 25/26||RedBud, MI|
|Aug. 15/16||Loretta Lynn’s, TN|
|Sept. 19/20||Underground, TX|
|Oct. 17/18||SOB, SC|
About the Race Leadership Team:
The RLT consists of representatives from the AMA, MX Sports and MX Sports Pro Racing. The RLT will reconvene next Monday to review race schedules, making adjustments as needed, and will work with event organizers to reschedule events when possible.
The RLT continues to urge racing families to use common sense: 1) wash your hands often; 2) avoid shaking hands or coming into close personal contact with others; 3) cough into your elbow; 4) if you are sick, stay home; 5) if you are really sick, go to the hospital; and 6) don’t panic.
The health, safety and welfare of our riders and their families remains paramount, and we will keep our race community apprised of all further developments.
Please direct all communications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the rest of the first long weekend of the summer season. Stay safe, out there and let’s hope things get back to normal sooner rather than later.
For this Groundhog Day’s breakfast entertainment, we’ve got the 1987 film Summer School on in the background. Yep, Mr. Shoop is up to his old tricks…