Motocross announces changes to 2020 schedule

Pro Motocross TV schedule
Jeff Kardas, ProMotocross.com
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In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, MX Sports Pro Racing has altered its schedule. The 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season will begin on June 13 with the Florida Nationals from WW Ranch Motocross Park in Jacksonville, Florida, and will feature 11 of the original 12 rounds.

Most races will maintain their original dates, with three exceptions.

The Florida National at WW Ranch originally was scheduled for June 6 but will be delayed one week to June 13.

The Fox Raceway National at Pala, California, originally was scheduled to run May 23. It will become the season finale Sept. 9.

The Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, Colorado, moves from May 30 to July 11.

“It is our hope that in postponing the start of our season for this additional month, the extended period of time will not only allow for us to obtain a clearer picture of the state of the pandemic, but also provide ample opportunity for our series partners, teams, competitors, and fans to plan accordingly,” said Davey Coombs, President of MX Sports Pro Racing in a release. “The updated calendar would allow us to still successfully host a complete season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross competition, in a quick and concise fashion will leave other parts of the calendar open for other racing activities.”

The season was scheduled to start with the Hangtown Classic at Placerville, California, but it was announced earlier this week that race would be canceled.

The Hangtown Classic is the only round to be dropped from the amended schedule.

“While the whole world is trying to cope with the ongoing global pandemic that is the COVID-19 coronavirus, we have diligently looked at the impending future of our own championship and the impact this will inevitably have on this annual summer tradition,” Coombs said “While the series has unfortunately already been affected by this pandemic with the cancellation of American motocross’ longest-running event, the Hangtown Motocross Classic, we have developed a condensed and redesigned schedule for the remainder of the championship that will now start a little less than three months from now.”

Schedule

June 13: Florida National, Jacksonville, Fla. (originally 6/6)
June 20: High Point National, Mount Morris, Penn.
June 27: Southwick (Mass.) National
July 4: RedBud National, Buchanan, Mich.
July 11: Thunder Valley National, Lakewood, Colo. (originally 5/30)
July 18: Spring Creek National, Millville, Minn.
July 25: Washougal (Wash.) National
Aug. 15: Unadilla National, New Berlin, N.Y.
Aug. 22: Budds Creek National, Mechanicsville, Md.
Aug. 29: Ironman National, Crawfordsville, Ind.
Sept. 5: Fox Raceway National, Palam Calif. (originally 5/23)

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”