On Friday, Feld Entertainment officially announced that the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship has been postponed until further notice. With the late decisions on cancelled races, a lot of the industry was already in motion on the way to Indianapolis, Indiana, for round 11 of the championship. With everything now coming to a sudden halt, we asked Kris Keefer, Jason Thomas, and Steve Matthes to take us through what happened and what could be coming next.
1. Explain how crazy the last 48 hours have been in the supercross world, including your own personal travels. Plus, you’ve probably heard stories from others.
Kris Keefer: I was packing my things in order to hop on a plane to Indy and was told there would be no fans allowed at this race. This bummed me out because besides being at the actual race, getting to talk to people about their own bikes gets me excited. Once I heard that, I knew we would have to bring the heat for the live show we had planned, but in the end, the race got cancelled as well as the live show. The thought of not having a supercross race on Saturday night when I know there should be one is kind of weird, I am not going lie. But what about being a journeyman privateer racing this series and then realizing you have no job to go to on Saturday? That's a couple grand each weekend that they are potentially losing out on. That kind of money means nothing to the factory guys, but that 2K or so means a hell of a lot to these guys, I can guarantee you. Let's hope that our local motocross tracks and local races DO NOT get shut down so some of these guys can go try and race to at least make some pocket change. Oh, and if you’re wondering, you really don't need that much toilet paper people! Everyone just chill down, ride your dirt bike, watch Netflix, talk to one another, anything to keep the two-hour checkout line at the grocery store down please!
Jason Thomas: It’s been wild to say the least. I always have a heavy travel schedule, as many know. We had a big meeting on Wednesday at FLY Racing to decide if I was going to continue travel or not. There were differing opinions, but I wanted to go do my job if at all possible. I was scheduled to go to Indy for a dealer seminar on Thursday, have our live Racer X/PulpMX show Friday, and would obviously attend the race on Saturday. I host a VIP program for the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC/WPS/KTM team in conjunction with Feld, so obviously I was trying to find out more on what exactly was going on with this race and future events. From there, I was to fly to Boston to see dealers throughout the week before heading to Detroit for the next round. Well, as my Thursday of flying went, rumors were flying in every direction for what was to come. News broke that the race would go on without fans, which was a bummer for multiple reasons, but at least I would get to see a race on Saturday. Also, we could continue on with our show on Friday (I pushed HARD to do the show, people. Ask Weege, Matthes, and Keefer if you don’t believe me).
By the time my seminar ended on Thursday night, the race had gone from spectator-less to canceled altogether. Great. So, what now for me? Do I just hang out in Indy for a few days and then continue on to Boston? If you’ve seen the news, Boston is a serious hotspot for this virus. That didn’t seem appealing. I made a few phone calls, talked to the Western Power Sports brass, and decided to take my talents back to Boise (shoutout to LeBron).
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Due to the increasing spread of COVID-19 and expanding restrictions on domestic and international travel, and in accordance with national state and local governments prohibiting large group gatherings, the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season has been postponed until further notice. The following Supercross events have been cancelled: March 14 in Indianapolis, IN at Lucas Oil Stadium March 21 in Detroit, MI at Ford Field March 28 in Seattle, WA at CenturyLink Field April 4 in Denver, CO at Empower Field at Mile High *Includes Sunday Supercross Futures Cancellation April 18 in Foxborough, MA at Gillette Stadium *Includes Sunday Supercross Futures Cancellation Event ticket refund information can be located on the venue or ticketing website. If you purchased your tickets elsewhere, contact your point of purchase directly. The health and safety of everyone attending and competing in our live events, as well as our touring personnel, is our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation. We value you as a fan and appreciate your patience and understanding during this unprecedented time. Visit Supercrosslive.com for real-time updates.
Upon arriving in Boise, I was informed that I would need to lock myself down for a few days to make sure I didn’t catch the coronavirus. So, as I sit typing this, I am on a self-quarantine. I am watching old races, making jokes to myself, and drafting a manifesto. It’s been a chaotic few days, but hopefully everyone stays safe amidst this craziness. I have a lot of moving parts in my world to plan in the next two months but all of that is irrelevant compared to the health and safety of the people around us.
Steve Matthes: It’s been insane for sure, I wrote about it in Racerhead yesterday as well but yeah, I was leaving Thursday afternoon for Indy to do press day and also get in early for the live podcast show we were doing. The whole time on Thursday we were talking about the race being held but with no fans. But, as I was going to the airport, a lot was changing and at one point I found myself waiting to board the plane thinking I should just dip out. A rider had texted me that it was going to be canceled altogether as the governor of Indiana had put out a notice about not having any events over 250 people which, doing the quick math, meant the race couldn’t happen. But there was nothing official yet. I sat down in my seat and heard from another person that the race was cancelled but still, nothing official. I basically found out that it was done as the plane was taking off in Vegas so looks like I was getting a ride to Chicago (my layover) and back. I should’ve faked a heart attack or something while we were taxiing.
On the plane, I made a reservation for the hotel in the O’Hare airport and changed my flight to first thing Friday morning. I landed in Chicago and had to cancel hotels for Indy and we had also decided to cancel the live podcast show as well. Landed back in Vegas Friday morning and just tried to process all that was happening. Completely unprecedented in our sport and I also enjoyed seeing Weege driving up and down the eastern seaboard.
2. Look, no one knows anything for certain besides the next few races being postponed. Do you have any guesses as to what happens for the rest of the championship?
Keefer: Honestly, I think this Coronavirus deal gets worse before it gets better. So, if we do get to run anymore races, I don't see it being more than two. There is talks of double headers, no fans, with fans, who the hell knows. If there will be another round or two, I can see it happening in Vegas where the penultimate round was scheduled to be held. If we do decide on a double header, are we doing it on back-to-back days? That would be really tough on the riders, teams, and Dirt Wurx, so I would think Feld wouldn’t do that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they held a Friday/Sunday type of deal to wrap up the championship. I don't foresee the series making it to SLC unless this virus gets under control by then.
JT: I do think we get back to racing in April some time. It might be late April, but I am hoping that the situation calms some and there is a sense of normalcy within a month. How Feld executes the final rounds will be a hot topic but it’s in everyone’s interest to go racing if it’s safe to do so.
My best guess would be to do multiple Vegas rounds, possibly more than one per week/weekend. That would lead to the finale in SLC as scheduled. I am not really sure why everyone thinks a double header is so difficult. We have done this at the U.S. Open plenty of times and many of the off-season races in Europe and Australia do this every year. It’s not a new concept and having done this literally dozens of times myself, it’s really not a big deal. Some races in Europe even go three days in a row! That third day is brutal, I will admit that. For a back-to-back race, it makes too much sense to not do in this situation. The teams are there, the track is built, and fans would love to make a whole weekend out of Monster Energy Supercross (my opinion). Feld could sell package deals for both nights (assuming fans are allowed to attend), and it would be a great attraction for people wanting to see history made. I don’t know if we will indeed get 17 rounds completed, but I know Feld is going to do everything humanly possible to finish this series strong.
Matthes: They’re all guesses, right? I do think we get some races in, I would bet highly on that, but I cannot see how we get all 17 rounds in. Unless there’s some sort of unprecedented move where Feld works with MX Sports to move some outdoor races. I know there’s a plan out there for SLC and then six races in Las Vegas (double headers or mid-week races) but not sure that’s going to work either. So yes, we get some races in, but we don’t get all 17.
3. How the heck would a rider/team/trainer manage their time through this?
Keefer: If I was a rider, I would go about my normal routine until Easter break and then start switching to outdoors. I don't think there is a reason to panic and start grinding out 30 plus twos just yet. If I was Aldon [Baker], I would have my guys go through the race routine on Saturday's at the test track just so the guys can stay sharp, right? I would say some of the riders are probably stoked on the time off so they can get a little rest in and maybe heal up some of those aches and pains.
JT: The most important aspect will be to maintain the level riders worked so hard to achieve in the off-season. That means work throughout the week and also replicating a race day workload to get intensity up. Also, I would start putting in outdoor preparation. Testing, riding, and planning are all a great solution to the free time everyone now has. I do believe we will be racing this summer in some fashion, so getting ahead of the outdoor curve could be a silver lining for a very uncertain time.
I don’t think you’ll see many trainers adjusting their plan too much, other than possibly inserting outdoor riding into the mix a bit earlier than scheduled. I could also see them having mock “races” on Saturdays at their test tracks, so they keep the same routine. Most of these training facilities have enough talent to run their own mini race anyway. Athletes love routine so look for trainers to keep things as “business as usual” as possible.
Matthes: I think it’s the same for them as it is for us media guys and that’s just take a breath and relax a bit. The riders also. For the teams, it’s been non-stop since January, so it would be good for everyone to just take a couple days off here and there, work on some outdoor bikes/testing, and generally just wait it out. I would hope at least some teams are doing that because it’s a bit stressful for people (not really for me at all but I understand if you dear reader are a bit flummoxed by all this) to have this virus out there and the last thing you need to do is keep up the high pressure grind of a SX team. As far as the riders, they can’t just slack off totally but go ride a bit in the hills, maybe the hi-dez (Keefer!) and stay sharp without the long days of putting in 20s. I would think we’ll be at it in a month or so, so they’ll stay off the couch eating Cheezies.
Bonus: What are you doing the next few weekends?
Keefer: Unlike Steve and JT, for the most part my weekends will remain the same. I will ride/test dirt bikes. I usually am at a track on Saturdays and even some Sundays, so the show goes on over here. Now that we don't have a lot of racing to talk about, maybe I need to start writing some test articles for Racer X? Hope to see more people on their bikes over these next few weekends and don't forget you can always watch old SX races on YouTube Saturday night while the wife watches 30 Day Fiancé!
JT: I plan on getting a lot of work done. My life is usually a nonstop circus of planes, trains, and automobiles. These races will eventually get back on track and that means I will be on the move more than ever. I am hoping this down time will get me way ahead of schedule and ready for the grind that will be the rest of 2020. I think it will also let everyone, including me, reset a bit. These races keep coming for nine months straight and we take them for granted. Having them removed from our life is a wakeup call. I think we will all understand how lucky we are when things get back to normal. I know I will.