Monster Energy AMA Supercross will begin its 2021 season Saturday night with Round 1 in Houston kicking off a 17-race schedule unlike any other in series history.
It’s the first time in 25 years that Supercross will open a season outside of California, which is among many curveballs that riders and teams will face in adapting to restrictions from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
After ending the 2020 season with seven consecutive events at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Supercross will carry over several of those concepts – such as midweek races and multiple consecutive rounds in one city — to the 2021 schedule, which will open Saturday with the first of three races in eight days at NRG Stadium.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH: Supercross storylines for the 2021 season
The short turnaround and unfamiliar starting local have prompted some trepidation among routine-driven riders who have been accustomed to opening the season at Anaheim annually since 1999. For the past two seasons, the proximity to many manufacturer and team hubs in Southern California and the once-weekly event schedule provided time for making adjustments and testing between races.
Houston won’t allow for that luxury, though riders still seem stoked about opening the season someplace new.
“I don’t think the location is going to play too much of a role,” Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo said. “I think it’s still the same type of nerves I’d feel lining up at Anaheim. Maybe a little less because the crowd won’t be at full capacity. I think it’s a little more of a chiller vibe.
“But when you get behind the gate and look to your left and right and see all these amazing athletes next to you, it’s still nerve-wracking, obviously. I really like the California races, so I hope we can get back to that pretty soon. At the same time, I enjoy Houston, and the dirt is really good. It’s my favorite football team as well, the Houston Texas, so I’m excited to channel some Deshaun Watson energy.”
Said 2019 series champion Cooper Webb: “I’ve always enjoyed Houston, I think they have some good dirt there. I raced it when super ready and when it’s hard-packed. I’m sure it’s maybe a little wet now.”
Here are the pertinent details for watching Round 1 of the 2021 Supercross season:
(All times are ET)
BROADCAST/STREAMING SCHEDULE: TV coverage of Round 1 will begin Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The event also will be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App.
Exclusive streaming coverage formerly on NBC Sports Gold’s Supercross and Pro Motocross Pass also has moved in 2021 to Peacock Premium, which is available for $4.99 per month. The Supercross and Pro Motocross packages will have live coverage of all Supercross heats, qualifiers and races and Pro Motocross main practice, qualifers and motos. On-demand replays (including the full 2020 season, which was added this week) are available without commercial interruption.
An encore presentation of the NBC Supercross season preview special will air this Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC
6:11 p.m: 250SX Heat #1 – 6 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 20 riders (Finishers 1 – 9 advance to Main)
6:20 p.m.: 250SX Heat #2 – 6 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 20 riders (1 – 9 to Main)
6:33 p.m.: 450SX Heat #1 – 6 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 20 riders (1 – 9 to Main)
6:47 p.m.: 450SX Heat #2 – 6 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 20 riders (1 – 9 to Main)
7:10 p.m.: 250SX Last Chance Qualifier – 5 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 22 riders (Finishers 1 – 4 to Main)
7:28 p.m.: 450SX Last Chance Qualifier – 5 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 22 riders (1 – 4 to Main)
7:48 p.m.: 250SX Main Event – 15 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 22 riders
8:29 p.m.: 450SX Main Event – 20 Minutes/Plus 1 lap – 22 riders
COVID-19 CROWD PROTOCOLS: Houston will have limited attendance of about 25 percent capacity and “pod”-style seating for the event with face coverings required and social distancing observed in the stadium.
Supercross will be reopening its FanFest pit and sponsor area to fans but will keep riders and teams in a paddock bubble separate from the general public.
TRACK LAYOUT: Saturday night’s event will be the first of three in Houston to open the 2021 season, and Supercross officials plan to tweak the course for each race. Here’s the track map for Houston 1.
HOW TO WATCH SUPERCROSS IN 2021: Full NBC Sports schedule
PRESEASON COVERAGE ON NBCSPORTS.COM: