All eyes will be on Crawfordsville in the coming weeks as racing returns to Ironman Raceway.
A trio of events have been placed on the schedule for the next two months, including the opening round of the 2020 AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on July 18, which will be open to spectators. This race will replace the annual Ironman National that has hosted the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship circuit each August since 2014.
Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) will also be on display with a pair of events in the coming weeks. On June 20, an amateur Loretta Lynn regional event will run, while an additional amateur race with a pro element similar to the fall GNCC race at Ironman Raceway will run on June 11. While ‘The Hoosier,’ will be similar to the fall ‘Ironman,’ it will look different, and fans are encouraged to not attend.
A group of advisors from across the country have made up a Safe-to-Race task force, paving the way for motorsports to restart amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve looked at every piece of our business,” Event Director for MX Sports Tim Cotter said. “From how people come in our front gate, to how people register to race, to how we start our races, and we’ve dissected everything that we do. We’ve asked every employee to sit down and really think about their day-to-day operations at an event and how we can modify that or adapt it to prevent the spread of the disease.”
While the GNCC circuit has returned in states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the pro motocross riders are finishing their Supercross season with a number of races without fans in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Cotter says they have looked at which states are opening back up to help select the tracks each racing circuit will race at.
“We are looking at communities where we are able to go back and run under proper protocols and laws and so forth,” he said. “Moving into Crawfordsville we kept a very close eye on your guys’ governor’s directives, and projections. We are going to go to states that are opening up, and giving us clear direction.”
Under Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s Indiana Back on Track plan, sporting events will be allowed to convene with fans starting on July 4. However, it was announced last week that the IndyCar Grand Prix and the NASCAR Brickyard 400 to be held July 4th weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will take place without fans.
The Motocross race at Ironman Raceway will likely be one of the first events in the state of Indiana to allow fans, and Cotter believes a safe number of fans will be near 10,000.
“The beauty of our sport is that we are spread out over larger areas,” he said. “So anyone can social distance if they wish. With that number I can say to myself that everybody on the property can stand six feet apart.”
Masks will not be required for fans, but encouraged. Cotter says the pit area will be closed and there will be no autograph session, but food vendors will be available. Cotter and other officials will also work with the Montgomery County and Indiana Department of Health for plans on camping. Tickets are on sale now.
All staff will be required to wear masks, and they will be taking every step to severely minimize the amount of touching and handling of materials.
“We are not promoting this as the biggest and baddest thing ever,” Cotter said. “We want to be responsible, and it’s our first run at it in the post COVID-19 era.”
The Montgomery County Visitors & Convention Bureau is preparing for the influx of guests to the area, which will be the first time the county will welcome a large group of people for an event since the pandemic started in early March.
“Visit Montgomery County is excited to welcome our guests for the Ironman National and the GNCC,” Executive Director Heather Shirk said. “We will work closely with the Montgomery County Health Department and Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency to make sure our visitors and community members stay safe and healthy, while having a good time at a wonderful, world-class facility. We are happy to help businesses and hotels locate resources needed to welcome these guests from across the United States.”
Cotter says the decision to kick off the season with a race live on NBC and in the state of Indiana at one of the riders’ and spectators’ favorite tracks made the most sense.
“The reason to come to Crawfordsville, No. 1 it’s protocols and directives from the government that allow us to go,” he said. “No. 2 we are excited to open up our series near the home of Lucas Oil, and we don’t have live NBC dates all year, and it worked out really well to have the Lucas Oil showcase event near Lucas Oil, live on NBC, and in a state that has welcomed us.”