The COVID-19 scenario continues to have ripple effects around the racing world, as just because Monster Energy AMA Supercross managed to run seven fan-less races doesn't mean the situation will be the same for others. The Australian Motocross Nationals have continued to hit snags with their schedule, because, like most motocross events, the races need to have spectators in order to make the math work financially. With the chances that spectators will be allowed looking less and less likely, clouding the path forward, Williams Event Management (WEM), which promotes the series, has decided to drop from organizing this year's championship.
WEM has run the series since 1997 and had already announced 2020 would be its last year at the helm. The complications of organizing a 2020 season have pushed that decision forward one year.
Australian website MotoOnline has the full story. Here's a snip of quotes from Kevin Williams, the director of WEM.
“It is a tough day for myself, as I started my journey at the helm of the MX Nationals in 1997, but it goes back as far as 1995 was the first time I was involved in running an Australian championship down at Traralgon,” Williams stated in a virtual press conference this morning. “It’s been a long journey and a major, major part of my life.
“It’s no secret that at the end of this year we were handing the championship back to Motorcycling Australia and times have changed, things are certainly a lot different. However, we didn’t expect COVID and we didn’t expect not to go racing this year. We wanted to spend the 2020 season going out to be proud with what we’ve achieved over those 23-24 years.
“In early June I was quite optimistic that we would see a road forward, but certainly, over the last 10 days has seemed more and more impossible. I feel I have been consistent from day one when we postponed the series, giving everyone the best opportunity to move forward and there’s certainly been times where that looked like it was going to be very favourable.
“But, the model doesn’t work without a crowd. Unfortunately, unlike the football, V8s or other disciplines, we don’t have the big TV program or a heap of money behind us. I’ve been quoted in a number of interviews that we would review in June and we’ve done that. Most of the council funding is based on economic impact, bringing money to the region and, hence, a crowd. Right now, we’re clearly in a position where we can’t confirm that.
“Our inability to deliver a crowd to the industry, to partners, an inability to meet KPIs from the councils, it became very evident that the financial slide was going one way and we weren’t going to be able to deliver. I stand very proud that in 23 years, I believe that every time I’ve said I would do something, I’ve done it."
The MotoOnline story also explains it's possible the season might not take place at all, or could contain as few as three races.
Personally, I had a chance to meet with Kevin Williams last fall while attending the Monster Energy AUS-X Open in Australia. I can tell you he's a passionate, life-long lover of motocross, and has been involved with the industry from many angles. This COVID-19 situation has forced many people to make decisions they do not want to make.
The good news is that Motorcycle Australia, the sanctioning body, has stated it will do everything possible to still hold a 2020 championship. CEO Mike Doyle explained this in a follow up story with MotoOnline:
“From MA’s position, obviously we were already doing some exploration into next year, so we will ramp that up,” Doyle told MotoOnline. “If at all possible, based on where we sit with COVID-19 amongst the states, we will do everything we can to get a form of championship up and running this year.
Stay tuned to www.motoonline.com.au for more as this story develops.