Supercross will be reopening its pits to fans at select times during the 2021 season

Supercross fans pits 2021
Feld Entertainment, Inc.
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The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series is expecting to welcome back fans — and to the pits — when the 2021 season begins Jan. 16 in Houston, Texas – the first time in 25 years that Supercross will open outside California.

In unveiling a 17-race schedule Tuesday (with details for four race still to be announced), Feld Entertainment senior director of two-wheel operations Dave Prater said the series’ six confirmed stadiums are approved for crowds currently at 20 to 25 percent capacity (with the potential for increasing).

Though the series still is working with epidemiologists on safety protocols for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, masks would be mandatory for fans, who also would be cordoned off from the “bubble” environment in which riders and teams would operate.

“Our intent is to open the pits and (sponsor) activation area to fans,” Prater said. “Obviously, that would be a modified experience. We want to keep the bubble we’re working in separate, but we will allow fans into the pits during the 12-6 p.m. timeframe.”

Prater said Supercross still is working through how to test riders and teams for COVID-19 after mandating testing on initial entry to its Salt Lake City, Utah, bubble for the final seven races this year (which concluded June 19 with Eli Tomac’s first championship).

“There will be (COVID-19) testing, we’re just still working on what works given the venues and cities we’re racing and the timeframe we’ll be there,” he said.

After ending the 2020 season with seven consecutive events at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Supercross will carry over several concepts – such as midweek races and multiple consecutive rounds in one city — to its 2021 schedule, which will open with three races in eight days at NRG Stadium.

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, all would play host to Saturday-Tuesday race combinations, building off the Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday schedule that was well-received in Salt Lake City last year.

The series also will make its annual visit to Daytona International Speedway on March 6.

The last five rounds, including the Round 17 season finale at Rice-Eccles Stadium, will happen after Easter (April 4) but haven’t been assigned dates. Prater said it’s possible that Rounds 13 through 16 also could be run in Salt Lake City.

“I think things will start to get better and at the very least, we’ll have multiple stadiums after Easter,” Prater said. “I don’t know how many yet. If there are stadiums where the capacity opens up enough to make it viable.”

Ken Roczen (Feld Entertainment, Inc.)

For a single Supercross event, a stadium would need to be at 50 to 60 percent capacity because of costs, said Prater, who noted the series is “definitely going to be taking a hit financially” again next year after the pandemic forced a reduction in purse money last year.

Prater said Supercross chose its first four venues because they also have NFL teams that have been working toward having limited crowds.

That’s been a major snag for its California venues, which are used primarily for baseball.

“Obviously we love Anaheim, and Angel Stadium has been a great partner,” Prater said. “They were disappointed, but they understand completely. Anaheim, Petco Park (in San Diego), Oakland are all baseball stadiums. Major League Baseball basically was taking the stance that up until the postseason, they weren’t going to entertain having fans at all.

“Up until recently, Angel Stadium, Petco and Oakland couldn’t really talk to us about what was going to happen because they didn’t know. I’m optimistic, but who knows. California could slide into April if it opens up, but that remains to be seen.”

Other notable items from Prater’s 45-minute news conference Tuesday:

–Because the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is slated to start in the third week of May, the Supercross season finale will happen no later than May 8.

–No times were announced for any of the events, and it’s likely the preponderance of Tuesday races could mean more daytime starts. Prater said at least two of the first 12 rounds are “a little earlier” on preliminary schedules as Supercross works with NBC Sports Group to firm up a broadcast lineup.

–Tracks will alter layouts between events with “some aggressive changes,” Prater said. “From what we learned in Salt Lake City (which used seven layouts), we’re comfortable with that. Fans can be rest assured if they come to Saturday’s race and then come to Tuesday, it’ll be a completely different track, even more so than Salt Lake City.”

–Supercross is owned by Feld Entertainment, which held its first Monster Jam event with fans since the pandemic last weekend. Prater said a crowd of roughly 30,000 attended over the two-day show in Arlington, Texas.

“We’ve done a few surveys, and over 80 percent were eager to get back to Supercross and Monster Jam,” he said. “They obviously want safety protocols in place, and we’re continuing to work through that plan.”

Supercross 2021 schedule

–Saturday, Jan. 16: Houston, Texas

–Tuesday, Jan. 19: Houston, Texas

–Saturday, Jan. 23: Houston, Texas

–Saturday, Jan. 30: Indianapolis, Indiana

–Tuesday, Feb. 2: Indianapolis, Indiana

–Saturday, Feb. 20: Glendale, Arizona

–Tuesday, Feb. 23: Glendale Arizona

–Saturday, Feb. 27: Glendale, Arizona

–Saturday, March 6: Daytona Beach, Florida

–Saturday, March 20: Arlington, Texas

–Tuesday, March 23: Arlington, Texas

–Saturday, March 27: Arlington, Texas

–Round 13: TBA

–Round 14: TBA

–Round 15: TBA

–Round 16: TBA

Date TBD: Salt Lake City, Utah,

Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”


Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”


Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).