The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross schedule was released yesterday and if you haven’t seen it on every rider and media outlets Instagram or Ticky Tac already, here it is.
This is the most unique schedule we’ve ever had, and I’ll be honest: I’M ALL IN! Look, this sport hasn’t changed much since its inception, so why not add some flair! Why not add some excitement? I’ve never been more excited for a schedule release than yesterday. Yes, the schedule release is always a cool day, but we know that aside from a few changes, we’re going to California 100 times, Arizona, the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and Texas. Cities rotate, but the schedule is very similar year to year. NOT THIS YEAR.
Here’s some things I like and some things we learned yesterday when Dave Prater, Feld Motor Sports director of operations – Supercross, spoke in a Zoom-based media roundtable about the release.
Supercross is a meat grinder. Seventeen rounds in 18 weeks, to me, does not bring out the best in riders or the racing. Allowing some breaks gives riders a chance to rest and recover, which in turn will make for better racing. My two cents, anyway.
While the dates for rounds 13-17 have yet to be announced, this new schedule gives riders a great deal of time off. There are 18 days between rounds 5 and 6 and 14 days between rounds 9 and 10. Yes, there is more racing packed into those rounds, but I bet riders will prefer this schedule.
Will Fans Be Allowed?
Yes. Tickets for the first 12 rounds go on sale December 8 and according to Prater, they are expecting “20 to 25 percent” capacity depending on the venue.
“It is our intent to do FanFest and open the pits, as well as the activation area, to the fans,” said Prater. “Obviously, that’ll be a modified experience. We want to keep the bubble that we’re working, in the back gate is working in, separate, but we are going to allow fans into the pits during that 12:00-6:00 p.m. timeframe, yes.
“At present, the venues that we announced today, we’re at 20 to 25 percent depending on the venue, so that may change as we move into January, but at the moment, that’s what we’re planning, is 20 to 25 percent.”
What About Cali?
Like or it not, California is still the mecca of the sport. Almost all the teams and most of the companies are still based in California and supercross hosts multiple rounds there every year. Well, not this year—at least not yet. The initial schedule features zero rounds as the state is not allowing spectators into venues due to COVID-19. Prater said there is still a chance the last rounds could visit California.
“I wish I could say. I don’t have my crystal ball. I know it’s interesting, it seems like in the last couple of weeks that California seems a little more optimistic than they were a few weeks ago, a month ago. Anaheim, obviously we love Anaheim and Angel Stadium’s been a great partner forever. They were disappointed, but they understand completely. And the other thing with it is, Anaheim, San Diego and Oakland are obviously all baseball stadiums. Well baseball, major league baseball had made… They were basically taking the stance that up until the postseason, they weren’t going to entertain having fans at all, so 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. Again, I’m optimistic, but who knows, California could slide into that April date if it opens up, but that remains to be seen.”
Is Mid-Week Racing in the Future?
Maybe! The Salt Lake City experiment was great for us fans—that got to watch at home. Feld relies on fans, you know, actually attending the races, and Saturday and Tuesday racing probably won’t work in the future at the same venue once full capacity is allowed. Does that mean no mid-week racing in the future? Not exactly.
“Yeah, I think, although it’s a forced experiment, it’s an experiment all the same. So, I think we’ll definitely take whatever learnings we can and if it’s successful, build on it, potentially. Who’s to say? We haven’t introduced fans, we don’t know what these Tuesday events will end up with, especially a live event. But it’s definitely something that’s on our mind and something we’re going to watch closely.
“I think anything’s on the table. Anything and everything’s on the table, and it remains to be seen how these Tuesday events will do, now that we’ve got other sports back up and running. Because our Wednesday rounds in Salt Lake City we did, they did extremely well, but at the same time, we were the only sport back so we’ll have to wait and see. We’re going to be watching that closely, like I said earlier, and nothing’s off the table. It’s a forced experiment that we’re going to utilize and see where it goes.”
Where Could Rounds 13-16 Be Held?
With Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starting in May, and a date to be announced for the final round, Prater said they have a drop-dead date of May 8 to finish the season. Further, he said they have a deadline of mid-February to announce rounds 13-16—dates and venues.
“Yeah, so I think motocross is scheduled to start that third weekend of May. Really, our drop-dead date for the final would be May 8th. Again, that could change, but that’s as far as we can push it at this point, unless something happens and we have to adjust again, but that’s really where we’re at, as far as that goes. As far as announcing that second portion of the schedule after easter, is really, probably, mid-February, so we want to give people at least five or six weeks to plan for that, if it takes that long. Hopefully, we can get something out prior to that, but that’s our deadline, is mid-February, to get that those 13, 14, 15, 16, those rounds out.”
So where could the final races be? Obviously California is in the mix, as is Las Vegas, from what we hear. We’re sure there are more options, but it will really depend on what stadiums can hold fans.
“I think, from everything we’re seeing, I think things are going to start to get better,” said Prater. “And at the very least, we’ll have multiple stadiums after Easter. How many that is, I don’t know.”
Main image: Honda HRC