MOORESVILLE, N.C. — As I write this column, I have no idea what April, or the rest of the year for that matter, will look like.
The coronavirus pandemic that we are all dealing with has impacted not only the racing world but our everyday lives. I have no idea if normal, as we knew it, will be normal anymore. These are definitely uncharted waters for all of us, and I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy.
For me, it all became real on the Thursday before the originally scheduled Indianapolis round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. I was at Charlotte Douglas Int’l Airport and my plane was beginning to board when I received a call from Rich O’Connor, my boss at NBC Sports. He said, “Don’t get on the plane.”
At first, I was instructed to hang out at the airport with the hope a decision would be made and I could catch a later flight. After about three hours I was sent home. Finally, the announcement came that the Indy event was canceled. It was one of many racing events canceled or postponed.
Canceled and postponed are words we’ve heard way too frequently.
I strongly believe racing will bounce back quicker than any other sport. Racers are always ready to go. Once the government says we can get back to holding events with large crowds, it won’t be long before a track or sanctioning body announces its first race date.
As soon as that happens, racers will be on the road headed to the track, and fans, who have been cooped up in their houses, will pack the grandstands. The green flag will wave once again, and the roar of engines will return.
I have recently been involved in numerous conversations with television executives and sanctioning body higher-ups. Everyone is committed to the idea of running full seasons. How will this happen? How will they get all of the races in? These and many more questions will need to be answered.
I am glad there is a high level of commitment to the idea of running full seasons. Obviously, some events won’t be able to be rescheduled due to the difficulty in putting the event on even when things go smoothly. For example, street races such as IndyCar’s events in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., and Formula One’s Monaco Grand Prix are unable to be moved to different dates. This is unfortunate, but understandable.
It’s going to be challenging, uncomfortable, difficult and frustrating at times as we try to get all of these races completed. Events are going to overlap and some will have a difficult time finding open dates.
We will all need to try to be patient, understanding and happy that racing has returned. I have heard from some sports insiders that it is going to be crazy during late summer, fall and into the early parts of winter as many of these sports leagues and major events get pushed deep into the calendar year.
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Hopefully, the SPEED SPORT content we are producing will help keep you entertained until we can get back to racing. Meanwhile, stay safe, take care of each other and help support those in need. We’ll get through this and, hopefully, we’ll all be back at the races soon.