Yamaha Motor Canada Presents The Monday Gate Drop

Good day and welcome to another edition of the Yamaha Motor Canada Monday Gate Drop. I hope everyone is having a great long weekend. This May long weekend has always been a little hit and miss with the weather so hopefully wherever you live the sun is shining and the skies are blue!

Before I get into the news of the week, I want to first pass along my condolences to the Snowbirds pilot that lost her life yesterday in Kamloops. Captain Jennifer Casey (the Team’s Public Affairs Officer) was riding on board during the repositioning flight from Kamloops to Comox when the jet crashed shortly after take-off. Both pilots ejected but were so low to the ground that it appeared like only one of the pilot’s parachute had time to deploy. Sadly, Captain Casey died when her parachute didn’t have time to open. What makes this even more tragic is that the entire reason that the Snowbirds were flying on their cross Canada tour was to spread goodwill and to pay tribute to all of the frontline workers during this pandemic. “Operation Inspiration” was incredible to see as the Snowbirds made their way across this great country of ours. I sure hope the Snowbirds can recover from this tragic loss and return even stronger. Also, I hope the second half of 2020 ends up being a lot better than the first half has been as this year sure hasn’t started off very well.

So, with that sad news out of the way, let’s talk about a few positive things that happened late last week. The first item is that Feld Entertainment announced that the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series will resume on May 31st in Salt Lake City. The final seven rounds will all take place in SLC and the races will run every Sunday and Wednesday until its completion. Although the racing on the track will be the same as what we’re used to seeing, off the track there will be some very strict procedures in place to ensure everyone’s health. The list of restrictions and procedures is long and involved so I’ll just attach the official press release below as opposed to writing them all out. In a nutshell, there will be no fans at these races, only riders and essential crews, and those who are permitted to attend to these races will have to undergo constant Covid-19 testing. There will also be limited entries in both the 450SX and 250SX classes. Due to the fact that there will be no fans in attendance (thus cutting revenues), the rider’s purse has been cut dramatically. It’s definitely not perfect but at least we’re going racing again in less than two weeks, and to me (and I’m sure to everyone else) this means a great deal. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, the UFC and NASCAR have restarted their event so it’s good to see SX not too far behind.

Feld Entertainment Press Release:

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.

For more information on either one of these livestream options please visit NBCSports.com/Gold or SupercrossLIVE.tv .

Spectators will not be allowed at these raced. Teams will likely have to keep to their own rigs and not come within distance of the staff of other teams. 

In two weeks we’ll be able to talk about the 2020 Monster Energy SX Series again. Photo by James Lissimore

Another promising sign is more and more tracks opened this past weekend in Canada. I saw some posts from Popkum MX Park in BC, and on Saturday my family and I travelled down to Gopher Dunes for their second ‘opening day’ of 2020. The weather in Ontario was absolutely perfect on Saturday so spending the day at Canada’s roughest track was exactly what the doctor ordered. It wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be but track owner Derek Schuster had everything organized right down to very capable parking attendants showing us exactly where to park. We had a great day, and with more summer-like weather expected towards the end of this week, I would expect more and more riders to come out. Also, MotoPark, Sand Del Lee, and Walton Raceway will be opening for practice this week, so there will suddenly be multiple tracks to choose from, at least in Ontario. Hopefully this will be the same in all regions soon as it’s finally time to go riding! Now that we have some tracks open for practice, with any luck racing won’t be far behind. To have at least three of this summer’s MXTour Series tracks now open is a great sign for the series to begin as scheduled in July. As for amateur racing, it’s still up in the air as to when that will begin. At this point I think it is great news that tracks are at least opening for practice. If June goes well and more restrictions are lifted, then that still leaves us a lot time for amateur racing this season.

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone enjoys what is left of this Victoria Day long weekend. In closing, I want to send my best wishes to young Travis Gibbs who suffered a serious leg injury while mountain biking over the weekend. Heal up Travis! Please have a safe week and thanks for reading. If you have any comments or questions please email me at chris@mxpmag.com.

Heal up soon Travis! Photo by James Lissimore