COVID-19 has had a major impact on just about every person on the planet, and that includes our sport. But, even though racing is currently in limbo, people involved in the sport still have to stay prepared for when things get back to normal. To get a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes we talked to Honda HRC crew chief Lars Lindstrom, Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha team manager Wil Hahn, and pro trainer Seth Rarick.
Racer X: How has your personal day-to-day work routine changed because of the Coronavirus?
Lars Lindstrom: I personally have been able to work on some projects that were lower priority but still important, so that’s a bonus. It’s been a bit of a strange feeling not knowing when our next race is, or even if there will be a next supercross. Staying motivated is key right now, and trying to prepare for whatever comes our way, while also staying away from too many unnecessary risks as far as the COVID-19 is concerned.
Wil Hahn: Well we’re not going racing so that throws everyone off somewhat. We’re all in that routine. East and West Coast guys are slightly different, but as far as the crew goes, we go racing. Being at home last Saturday was pretty strange. I mowed my grass and did stuff around the house that I’m not normally able to get caught up on that quickly. It was just strange, honestly. There are so many unknowns right now, it’s just crazy. Under different circumstances, I might feel better about it and try to enjoy it, but it’s not fun under these circumstances.
Seth Rarick: It’s changed drastically. I was in Florida, pretty much once the series went east I went east, and I was scheduled to come out to California this week after Indianapolis. Everything was normal until Indy got cancelled. I still came out to spend some time with the TLD/Red Bull KTM West [Region] guys before they got racing again, but obviously since I got on the plane to come out here [to California] everything changed. Plus the weather here is terrible right now. I went from being wide open having too much to do in one day to trying to find things to fill my time. We’ve been training with the guys, they’ve ridden one day so far this week, and other than that I’ve been sitting on the couch. I went from one hundred to zero. I’m not really okay with it. I’m a pretty active person so it’s killing me.
How has the situation affected the work you normally carry out with your riders? Is it business as usual or have things scaled back with their activity? What's a "normal" day like right now?
Lindstrom: Right now, our riders are all out of state for us, so some of our testing has been postponed. But Kenny [Roczen] and Chase [Sexton] have been changing it up, riding supercross and motocross while also getting some time to recover from a grueling schedule. Justin [Brayton] is someone who is benefitting from this as far as racing goes. He’s healing up from his broken hand that he suffered at Daytona.
Hahn: Basically, we’re maintaining normal activity but everyone’s doing the right things with keeping distance and not putting ourselves in public places. We’re trying to stay as normal as we can and take the proper precautions. Staff, riders, we’re all doing the same thing. It’s as normal as it can be.
Rarick: We’ve scaled back on riding. First and foremost because of the weather, but even when the weather does clear up we’re doing two days a week until we know when we’re going racing again. We don’t want to keep the guys hammering every day and burning themselves out with no end goal in the near future. Also, every time you swing a leg over a bike there’s a risk of injury and we definitely don’t want the guys in the hospital right now with everything that’s going on. The training is pretty much as normal, and the cardio sessions are longer to make up for the lack of riding. Obviously, this week all the gyms have closed down, but I’ve got a friend with a private gym who is helping us out. If it wasn’t for him, we’d really be searching.
With the future uncertain, where’s the focus right now? Are you working toward getting a jump on the nationals or working hard on being ready to surge for a possible return of supercross?
Lindstrom: We are definitely working on preparing for the nationals so we can have a head start and not be last minute, but we still have a great chance at winning the supercross championship with Kenny so we are doing everything we can think of to be even better when/if the series gets going again.
Hahn: We’ve been getting a lot of rain in California lately so it’s kind of forcing us to do outdoor stuff right now anyway. It wouldn’t really matter; we just can’t ride supercross right now because it’s been raining. So we’re getting a jump on outdoors because we’re kind of forced to.
Rarick: The temporary plan right now is to get a jump on outdoors. We haven’t even touched a supercross track in a while but that could change any day. Things are changing almost daily at this point. My goal is to, by this weekend, know something for the immediate future and we can adjust next week’s plan. It’s a really crazy time right now, and this thing is much bigger than racing. I just hope the world gets back to normal soon. Racing is secondary at this point, to be honest. But as of now we’re just riding outdoors two days a week. We can jump back on a supercross track at any time, but as of right now there’s no sense in doing that.