Supercross executive explains how the 2020 schedule might unfold

Feld Entertainment, Inc.
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It’s unclear exactly when, and no one yet knows exactly how it will look, but the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross season will continue. And it will almost certainly end with 17 rounds in the books.

And everything is on the table: From outdoor venues to midweek events to the possibility that the Supercross season, which generally ends in early May, will conclude after motocross in the fall.

But for now, it’s the waiting game for venue availability as other professional sports rejigger their schedules in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The current plan is to wait this thing out as far as Supercross goes,” Dave Prater, the senior director of operations, two wheel, at Feld Entertainment Inc. told NBCSports.com. “Our plan is to finish the season and do our best to get Rounds 11 through 17 in.

No one knows when stay-at-home orders and the practices of social distancing will end, or when the word will feel that it’s safe to gather in numbers greater than 100.

Everyone involved in professional sports is waiting for new information before plans can be implemented (and often made and remade). Multiple scenarios are being considered.

Supercross has an edge on other sports in that it already had completed most of its 2020 season before being halted. The most recent race — March 7 at Daytona International Speedway — was the 10th event this year with seven remaining.

In a statement on Twitter last month, Supercross said it intends to complete the final seven events (which had been scheduled at Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Denver, Foxboro, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City) at “dates and locations to be finalized.”

But the limitations for Supercross are complicated beyond those faced by NASCAR, IndyCar or even motocross.

Those series have permanent tracks dedicated to racing. Supercross is reliant on the availability of multiuse venues. The pieces that need to fall into place are simply not there. Yet.

Formulating plans for the remainder of the Supercross season is a lot like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together when someone keeps shaking the table. Or worse still, — as the precocious elementary school child being forced to homeschool during this lockdown — keeps stealing pieces.

“We are all in a holding pattern,” Prater said. “The first shoe to drop will be the NFL schedule and unless they change it, I believe it’s April 16 or 17 they plan to announce that. Once the NFL schedule is announced, we will all start moving forward with starting to get a clearer picture of venue availability and when we’re going to be able to fit some things in.”

Supercross riders patiently wait for the gate to drop on the continuation of the 2020 season. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

One thing is certain: The schedule will look different.

Major League Baseball never quite got started in 2020. And depending on Opening Day, it is reasonable to expect the season to go long.

The NFL’s starting date still sits outside of the most distant stay-at-home orders, but the lockdown shifts daily and by region.

Then there are conventions, shows, rodeos and any number of events that already have been scheduled in September, October and November. Currently, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season is set to end Sept. 5 at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

But of course, that, too, could change.

“We will definitely have to change some venues around simply because of availability,” Prater said. “If this does push off until late summer or fall timeframe, not only does Major League Baseball potentially have to get their games in but college football and the NFL will be starting up. So the venues we planned on racing in might not be available. At least not in the succession we had planned.

“So, we are looking at every venue option in the States. … A more realistic goal is to find venues that don’t necessarily have a home tenant and start with those.”

And that is where the 2020 season has the greatest opportunity to be unlike any before.

If a piece goes missing, the table is large and the jigsaw puzzle complex enough that it can be replaced.

Supercross tracks can be built and deconstructed in less than a week on venues with concrete floors. Natural grass stadiums require a little more time.

New markets could be considered, especially those with a stadium that does not have a primary tenant. Through Supercross, Monster Jam and their entertainment divisions, Feld has relationships with every major venue in the country. It doesn’t have to be a stadium; any large arena will do.

Round 10 of the 2020 season was contested outdoors in the infield of Daytona International Speedway. Moving into the fresh air opens a myriad of opportunities.

But at its core, Supercross is a stadium series. And the series intends to stay true to its values. It differs from Motocross primarily because of the limitations imposed by fenced-in real estate.

“First and foremost the goal is to put Supercross in a stadium,” Prater said. “That’s what Supercross is; that’s what people have come to know and love about it. That’s our goal. If it comes to that, we would consider taking it outside. But that would be one of the last things we’d want to consider.”

Limitations are good. Supercross is a sonnet. It is a well-crafted short story.

Motocross is an epic poem. Or a novel.

The shorter form forces one to be creative in order to provide inside-the-box entertainment. But in both the short and long form, forging new ground is critical to achieve the goal. Adapt or perish.

NASCAR was already considering midweek races for future schedules, but adjustments to 2020 to fit their 36 races into an acceptable timeframe probably will accelerate that.

The same is true for Supercross.

The length of the calendar is not of primary concern. There are 15 weeks between the scheduled end of Motocross and Christmas, which is more than ample to squeeze in seven rounds. But the battle for sports fans’ attention on the weekends will be immense.

“You have to be flexible in this situation, obviously,” Prater said. “If we do end up racing in that fall timeframe, we’re going to have to be flexible because college football and the NFL have Saturdays and Sundays on lockdown. You could definitely see a Supercross midweek eventually.”

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The Supercross series is reliant on multi-purpose venues like Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. Feld Entertainment Inc.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.