Before we begin, here’s hoping that all of our readers, riders, and industry friends are doing okay in this very fluid and frightening pandemic. Whether you are young or old, single or married, rich or poor, happy or sad, this thing is part of our lives for the indefinite future. Take it seriously, take care of the loved ones around you, and listen to what the doctors and experts are telling us. And wash those hands!
Last week, Monster Energy AMA Supercross and MXGP went on hold. The AMA Grand National Cross Country Series’ next round was already canceled, followed by the Hangtown Classic, the opening round of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. And the JS7 Spring Championships at Freestone Raceway in Texas were literally stopped in their tracks not long after practice started and everyone was sent home—the same fate of Red Bull’s A Day in the Dirt Down South the previous weekend. And the Area Qualifiers for Loretta Lynn’s that were set for the next few weeks have also been postponed indefinitely.
So how and when are we going to be able to get on with our everyday lives, not to mention our weekend passions for motorcycle racing? That remains to be seen. California and New York are literally locking down due to fears of advancing the spread of the virus. National borders are starting to close. For at least the next four to six weeks, by most accounts, we will all be dealing with the critical phase of this pandemic. Obviously, no big sporting events are going to be happen anytime soon.
Still, we need a plan for when we can get back out to restaurants, parks, movie theaters, and, of course, the racetracks. In our office, the leadership teams of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, along with Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Championships, GNCC Racing, and ATV Motocross, have been meeting often, checking local, state and federal guidelines, and preparing a plan for when and where we can start racing again. We’ve also been talking extensively with our fellow promoters around the country, especially Feld Entertainment, as well as our broadcast partners at NBC Sports and MAVTV, the OEMs, AMA Pro Racing, and other series partners and sponsors about a plan moving forward.
With input from all, MX Sports Pro Racing is announcing today that the 2020 Lucas Pro Motocross Championship schedule has been reconfigured. The series will now start on June 13 at WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Florida—previously scheduled to run one week earlier. The series will end on September 5 at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, which was previously set for May 23. The other big change is for Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado, which was originally scheduled for May 30 but will now run on July 11. All other dates—High Point (6/20), Southwick (6/27), RedBud (7/4), Spring Creek (7/18), Washougal (7/25), Unadilla (8/15), Budds Creek (8/22) and Ironman (8/29)—will stay on their original dates. As for the previously canceled Hangtown Classic, which takes place at Prairie City OHRV State Park, it is not likely they will be back this year. For this year only, the series will be an 11-round championship, not the normal 12.
So here’s what the 2020 schedule now looks like:
2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Schedule
The hope was that moving back one full month would possibly allow the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship to run in the month of May, but that still seems a long shot given the time they would need to get their series back up and running, accounting for stadium availability (as other sports like Major League Baseball get back up and running), as well as the current uncertainty as to when we may all get the greenlight anyway. So we decided to run as quick and concise a schedule as we could and leave the last third of the calendar year open. We expect to hear more about the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship very soon, and we will work with Feld in any way we can to help complete what certainly started out as a fantastic season.
Thank you to our series promoters and partners, our fans, and our participants for being patient while we worked to plan this all out. Of course, a lot can happen in these fluid times, and more changes could be necessary, but let’s hope not. With that in mind, let me turn this over to Tim Cotter, Director of Events for MX Sports.
Race Leadership Team (Tim Cotter)
MX Sports Pro Racing, MX Sports (organizer of the Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National program), GNCC Racing, and ATVMX have organized a Race Leadership Team to deal with the current national health crisis as it relates to racing activity for these programs. This is a fluid situation with matters subject to change quickly. It is the goal of the Race Leadership Team to keep our race community well informed of any up-to-date changes as soon as possible.
Accordingly, the Race Leadership Team will convene every Monday at 11 a.m. to review the upcoming race schedule of each series for the ensuing two weeks to determine if any adjustments are necessary. Any changes will be announced immediately at Racer X Online and on the various series social media channels.
In the meantime, GNCC Tactical Safety Specialist Alura McElvain-Acosta prepared the following information for GNCC staff with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak. This information is so helpful that we would like to share it with our entire race community.
Please take a moment to update yourself on the importance of knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 and the local regulations in the areas you may find yourself in the next 30 days. There has also been notification on a fake online malicious website that you need to know to avoid. That information is attached.
Stay safe and wash those hands!
- COVID-19 is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. For most of the American public who are unlikely to be exposed to COVID-19, the immediate health risk is considered LOW per the CDC. While the virus is NOT currently widespread in the United States, the CDC is stressing that the situation is rapidly
- How is COVID-19 spread? The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person; between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19? The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, shortness of breath.
- What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?Call your health care professional if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and have developed the associated symptoms. You should call ahead to a health care professional rather than arrive in-person at the Medical Center. This will help the medical staff take steps to keep others from being infected or exposed.
- How can I prevent COVID-19? There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC always recommends the following preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed
- Avoid close contact with people who are
- Stay home or follow your local sick call procedure when you are
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and
NOTE: The CDC DOES NOT RECOMMEND that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratorydiseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent thespread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Please don’t speculate or contribute to the rumor mill. Seek out and follow confirmed sources for COVID-19 guidance and updates, to include the following:
Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
NC Division of Public Health: https://publichealth.nc.gov/
World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Fox Sports is actually going to cover a virtual race on Sunday with some of their top NASCAR broadcasting folks, including Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Larry McReynolds. And they have some actual drivers lined up to participate in the virtual race, including Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, and Brad Keselowski. This race will take place over 100 laps on a digital reproduction of Homestead-Miami speedway. In other words, their screens. This will be like Weege, Grant Langston, and Will Christen covering a Mad Skills Motocross game between Cole Seely and Haiden Deegan! But I applaud them for trying to do something to help entertain auto racing fans. I know we've been covering the 2002 Indianapolis SX like it was only last Saturday night.
2014 High Point National Watch party
A note from O'Neal:
A HISTORY OF CANCELLATIONS (DC)
Local motocross races canceled all the time—it's the nature of the outdoor motorsports business. But what about big, BIG races, such as Monster Energy AMA Supercross or Lucas Oil Pro Motocross or MXGP?
Feld Entertainment was just starting their stretch run for the 2020 season, Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen locked in battle for the title, when this thing hit, and one and two at a time they had to start postponing races. MXGP was only just getting started, with a very promising battle between Jeffrey Herlings and defending champ Tim Gajser, and then they were hit just as hard as supercross. And then yesterday came the news that Hangtown, on the outskirts of California's capital city of Sacramento, had decided to cancel their race, which was set for May 16. And now we know that everyone is pushing back their start and restart dates.
Cancellations have happened here before, just not en masse like we're seeing in these pandemic (or maybe pandemonium) days. Let's take a look back at some previous premature checkered flags—so premature that the starting gate never actually dropped on the big race—that have happened in this country.
One of the most notorious cancellations came in the 1974 Trans-AMA Series. The race was set to be held at St. Charles Motocross Park in Missouri by legendary promoter Edison Dye, the man who basically brought motocross to America in 1966. Dye's Trans-AMA race was hit by rainstorms, and the track became a muddy mess. When the AMA went to him to gather the mandatory purse money before practice, Dye balked, as you can read in the So. Cal. Motocross Newspaper report below:
Dye was said to have told everyone he stood to lose $20,000 if he ran the race, but only $10,000 if he did not. The AMA cancelled the race on the spot, and Dye's once-stellar reputation for motocross promoting took a hit that he would not recover from.
Plenty of AMA Supercross races have been cut short due to severe rain, but only one has ever been outright canceled due to bad weather. It was the second night of the 1977 Dallas Supercross doubleheader, set to run in Texas Stadium in Irving, the old home of the Dallas Cowboys. The stadium’s funky open roof left the playing field exposed, though fans were mostly under cover against rain. The storms hit on the first night of racing, swamping the track and leading to lap times of more than three minutes by the end of the evening. Guys were running out of gas as the nearly hour-long main event finally ended, with Yamaha's Bob "Hurricane" Hannah edging out Honda's Jim Pomeroy after Pomeroy couldn't get up over the tunnel jump on the last lap, within sight of the checkered flag. After the race, as riders and race mechanics did their best to wash their bikes and gear before the next night's races, the promoter Pace Motorsports decided to pull the (drain) plug on the whole event and scrap the second night of racing altogether.
The 1982 Trans-USA Series was the remains of the once-mighty Trans-AMA Series, which annually pitted the top visiting European riders against the American hosts. It was the biggest motocross series in the U.S. for much of the 1970s, but it began to wane as the American motocross industry began focusing more and more on supercross rather than the three (yes, three) major MX series happening: Trans-AMA, Inter-Am, and Pro Motocross. By the time the series made a name change in 1979 due to a lawsuit by the automaker Pontiac, factories and fans were starting to lose interest. The AMA countered by changing it from a 500cc to a 250cc series, and they searched desperately for some kind of TV package, but that never panned out. It made it to 1982, when the series was set to be a five-race run across the country. The first three went off okay at Spring Creek, RedBud, and Unadilla, but the last two, set for Rio Bravo in Texas and Hangtown in California, were scrubbed after three of the four Japanese factory teams pulled out, electing to race the new "Trans-Cal" series, located entirely in California, and leading to an ant-trust lawsuit by the AMA against them. (Only Kawasaki avoided the suit by keeping Georgia's Billy Liles and Minnesota's Tommy Benolkin in the Trans-USA Series.)
As a measure of how much it had changed, Suzuki factory rider Roger De Coster won four Trans-AMA titles in the mid-seventies; the last Trans-USA Champion in '82 was Suzuki privateer Dave Hollis.
And check out this Cycle News description of something that happened at the last race of the series, Unadilla: "Spectators who did attend the race were, for the most part, angry and frustrated at the three factories. Petitions to boycott those respective brands were circulated, banners that relayed anger were posted, and at one intermission fans jumped the fence and burned a Japanese flag at the top of Gravity Cavity."
The 1985 Pontiac Silverdome doubleheader was set for April 13-14, the 8th and 9th rounds of the AMA Supercross Series. But on March 4 of that year a heavy snowfall built up on the inflatable roof of the home of the Detroit Lions, and it ended up tearing and then collapsing, causing the races to be cancelled. The races were not made up, but the series returned to Pontiac the following year after a new roof was stitched onto the top of the stadium.
Also, the 1992 Los Angeles Supercross was postponed for three weeks due to the riots that swept through that area of the City of Angels after motorist Rodney King’s beating at the hands of the LAPD was videotaped. When the race was finally run, on a Saturday afternoon in July, Jeff Stanton snatched his third AMA Supercross title away from Damon Bradshaw when the Beast from the East basically had a mental breakdown and could barely ride his Yamaha.
In one of the biggest self-inflicted fiascos in Motocross of Nations history, the FIM and Dorna gave the 2002 version of the event to a relatively unknown promotional group on an unbuilt track called Competition Park on the Soboba Indian Reservation in San Jacinto, California. Despite repeated warnings that work was not happening, and sponsorships were not being sold, they kept selling tickets and VIP packages for the September 28-29 event. The facade continued until the tribe themselves, spooked by the death of a tribesman on the unfinished track two weeks before the event was to happen, simply locked the front gate and canceled the race. A replacement event was cobbled together at nearby Glen Helen Raceway to salvage the plans of spectators and race teams who were already in SoCal for the MXoN, while the FIM decided to move the actual race to Spain and run it three weeks later. Italy would end up the winner.
In 2003, the Kenworthy's AMA Pro Motocross race in Troy, Ohio, was flooded out. Twice. The first time was in July, when a series of storm fronts swamped the area and caused the Little Miami River, which ran next to the Kenworthy's property, to overrun its banks. The AMA decided to postpone the race and move it to the end of the schedule in September, one week after the series was supposed to end at Steel City in Delmont, Pennsylvania.
By the time Steel City ran on Labor Day weekend, Team Honda's Ricky Carmichael had already wrapped up the 250 class championship aboard a Honda CR250—the last championship in this series to be won by a 250cc two-stroke motorcycle. But the 125cc class was still up in the air, as KTM teammates Grant Langston and Ryan Hughes had been battling all summer, and Langston was seven points up after Steel City. Looming in third was James Stewart, who had missed the first four rounds with a broken collarbone but had dominated every moto since his return. He was 30 points behind Langston.
But the whole weekend of the Steel City race, it was raining in western Ohio. And the Little Miami River rose up over its banks again, flooding the track. The AMA had two choices: wait another week to see if the waters subsided or call the championship complete. Since both Langston and Hughes were KTM riders, and since Kawasaki only had a remote shot, they decided to call it a season. Needless to say, Ryno was pissed. It was the first AMA Pro Motocross Championship ever won by KTM, though there was no race to celebrate it. (Racer X made up a #1 plate and delivered it to Rod Bush, then the president of KTM North America, which was based in Amherst, Ohio.)
The 2017 MXGP of the Americas ended up having three different locations—the original at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, the replacement venue of Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida, and finally the replacement for the replacement, WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Florida. It started the year before when Charlotte hosted its first MXGP, which featured a great battle between MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings and future AMA Supercross Champion Cooper Webb, who hails from North Carolina. But the race didn't do as well as the Speedway folks wanted, and the next year they decided to cancel the event, leaving series organizer Youthstream without a host. Wyn Kern of Gatorback stepped up, offering his facility in Central Florida. But no sooner had the deal been made than the actual landowners of the Gatorback track decided to raise the rent on Kern, to the point where he could not continue operations. But there was another very good Florida track coming online: Junior Scarborough's WW Ranch. An unlikely partnership formed between Kern and Scarborough, Youthstream and MX Sports, the FIM and AMA, and the race was held on September 3, 2017. KTM's Jeffrey Herlings won the MXGP class, and GEICO Honda's RJ Hampshire topped the MX2 division.
And of course, the Glen Helen round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship was canceled—twice, more or less—with the promoter asking to be taken off the schedule both times. First, in 2010, barely two months before the May 29 race was to be run, and then in October 2018, just a few weeks after the 2019 schedule was announced. In both cases, the race was moved to Pala Raceway (now Fox Raceway).
Now we can add Hangtown 2020 to the list of outdoor nationals that did not actually happen, as well as the postponement of all of these Monster Energy AMA Supercross and MXGP races—though they are only postponed for now. It is Feld Entertainment’s hope, as well as InFront/Youthstream’s, that all of these races are eventually run.
2020 Honda CRF450RWE Introduction (Keefer)
Before it was announced that California was put on strict stay-at-home guidelines, I got a chance to head out to my local dez test tracks and try the 2020 Honda CRF450RWE. This Works Edition machine is a little different than your KTM Factory or Husqvarna Rockstar Edition. The Honda actually has a ported cylinder head from Honda Japan and special ECU maps that cater to that engine work. Yes, there are other special parts like Kashima coated forks, Yoshimura full titanium muffler system, RK gold chain, gripper seat cover, back DID LT-X rims, Renthal Kevlar grips, and of course the factory HRC graphics. It's rare to see a manufacturer sell a machine that has in-house engine work done to it in production form.
While the rain and COVID-19 have hampered our local MX tracks, the desert was the perfect spot to test the Honda. Be on the lookout for a new Racer X Films edit on what the Works Edition is all about and how it compares to the standard "R" model. I will continue to try to keep the testing content flowing, as I know we’re all looking to pass the time with fresh dirt bike content. The good news about the desert is that I'm isolated from others already, so it seems I was trained for this day from the start. Stay safe, everyone, and enjoy the time with your families.
I DON'T KNOW...DO YOU? (Matthes)
That's basically been my texts back to a whack of people lately in regard to our little dirt bike racing issue we have going on. Anyone who says they know what's going on with the supercross or motocross series is lying, nobody knows when we'll get back to racing but it seems like, looking at other sports, that June might be a possible start date. I know there have been three scenarios played out with the teams and promoters and that's 1- end supercross now and push back the nationals (not surprisingly, no one really seems to want to do this) 2- Put SX after the nationals are done (Feld is telling the teams they really want to get all seven remaining rounds in but I also would like a money tree in my backyard and the Easter Bunny to be my best friend) and 3- finish supercross before the nationals (the two teams I talked to said this is preferable for most teams due to contracts, injury susceptibility ruining two titles, etc.). Obviously this is going to take massive co-operation with MX Sports (spoiler alert: Racer X is a sister company to MX Sports but they don't tell me anything). Me myself, I would prefer to wrap SX up before starting the outdoors- it just makes more sense, but I can't see how there can be, or needs to be a full seven more SX's. Even with double-headers and mid-week races jammed in there. And then with Hangtown cancelling their race, we are down to 11 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross races.
These are all questions that I don't have the answer for, but I can tell you it's all been discussed at the highest levels.
The Long and (Andrew) Short of it all... (Andras Hegyi)
Former SX/MX ace Andrew Short has been enjoying a brand-new career in long-distance rally racing. After racing with Kawasaki, Honda, KTM, and Suzuki on the AMA circuit, and then with Husqvarna at the outset of his foray into cross-country rally racing, the 38-year-old has now joined the Yamaha Rally Official Team, which means he's on blue for the first time. Shorty has taken part in rally racing since 2017. Yamaha also signed Ross Branch from Botswana, who was a surprise man at the Dakar Rally in the last two editions.
For a long while, Yamaha has not been successful in global rally racing, either in the FIM World Championship or at the Dakar Rally. The brand earned its last world title in 2011, while the last time Yamaha won the Dakar Rally was in 1998. Before 2000, Yamaha was the most successful brand at Dakar, taking victories nine times between the first event, in 1979, and Y2K. They won the '79 rally with Cyril Never riding the XT500, and then in the nineties the great Stephane Peterhansel won six times, most often aboard a YZE 850T.
Short is not the first American to race for Yamaha in rally racing and at Dakar. Jonah Street from Washington had two stage wins at the Dakar Rally riding with Yamaha, while both Chuck Stearns (Newhall, California) and motocross legend Danny Laporte (California) raced for Yamaha. Stearns earned six stage wins; LaPorte took two stage wins. Stearns rode for factory Yamaha in 1985, LaPorte in 1995.
Andrew Short was runner-up at the Dakar 2019, but he has yet to get a stage win. He also wants to follow his countryman Ricky Brabec, the first American Dakar overall winner, and become the second American motorcyclist to win the Dakar Rally.
The may 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The May 2020 issue of Racer X magazine is out. Subscribe to the print and/or award-winning digital edition today. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read the issue in full right now.
Inside the May issue of Racer X magazine
- As Monster Energy Supercross departs the West Coast, the 250SX East Region takes the spotlight.
- Ricky Brabec is the first American motorcyclist to win the Dakar Rally.
- Former GP racer Rob Andrews on what makes Belgium’s Namur one of the world’s great tracks.
- Arenacross is making a comeback—again—with AMA Kicker Arenacross.
Subscribe or renew to receive your choice of two exclusive BeeG Creations rider stickers!
Hey, Watch It!
Ken Roczen shared this fun video earlier this week:
The break in racing won't stop Dean Wilson's Instagram game:
LISTEN TO THIS
Just two weeks ago, Ken Roczen announced he would have to skip public autograph sessions to reduce his exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Seemed like an odd move then, but the world has changed quickly, and now Ken and the rest of his peers not only can't sign autographs, they can't even race! Jason Weigandt called the always-outspoken Honda HRC rider on Wednesday to get his take on the current state of affairs, as well as thoughts on his performance so far in 2020. Ken really wants to get back out there and win this championship, but at the very least, he's proud of the way he's performed so far. Hey, coronavirus is making for a pretty messy world right now, but Ken can tell you that after some dark times, better days always lay ahead.
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, This week Daniel Blair, "Snap-On Dan," and Producer Joe talk the Coronavirus affecting the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
“Cat is not pleased owners are home quarantined”—CNN Morning Express
“Gas prices could hit 99 cents in some states due to coronavirus and supplies, expert says”—FOX 5 New York
“Orange County Bans All Public, Private Gatherings – Including Work – Outside Single Household”—CBS Los Angeles
“Sportsbooks looking to Turkey, Russia, and more for betting offerings”—ESPN.com
“Coronavirus: Elephants break into farm in self-isolation and get drunk on whisky”—Mirror.co.uk
“Netflix is slowing down in Europe to keep the internet from breaking”—CNN Business
Fox Sports to broadcast virtual NASCAR Homestead-Miami race on Sunday following coronavirus-related cancellations”—Foxnews.com
“Drone walks dog for man on coronavirus lockdown in Cyprus”—Daily News
FIM president Jorge Viegas talks on the COVID-19 situation.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!