MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey: “This Is Just Unprecedented”

MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey: “This Is Just Unprecedented”

© 2020, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Today should have been the start of the 2020 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Series as practice and qualifying for the opening round was scheduled to begin Friday, April 3 at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).

Instead, the Texas track is empty and shut down indefinitely, all of the MotoAmerica race haulers are parked at their bases, there is no noteworthy racing going on anywhere, and most Americans (and many others around the world) are supposed to be sheltering at home to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

In addition to waiting for normal life to resume, racing fans are also anxiously awaiting news on when and where racing will resume, and according to MotoAmerica President and three-time 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Wayne Rainey, his organization is doing everything it can to ensure a 10-round MotoAmerica season happens in 2020–starting as soon as it’s safe to do so.

“This is just unprecedented,” Rainey told Friday in an exclusive telephone interview from his home in Monterey, California. “Certainly, the most important thing is the health of everyone. There’s a lot being said about social distancing and sheltering in place, washing your hands. I’m doing that, and I’m sure everyone else is.

“Motorcycle racing is something that we love and enjoy and it’s great entertainment and it’s the way some of us make our living, but this is above that. This is about staying healthy and staying alive, and that’s what is most important right now.

“I think in the end when this is all said and done, the racing is going to come back and we’ll all be back to normal, but there’s just going to be a challenge before that happens.”

The challenge for MotoAmerica is dealing with racetracks around the country that have been forced to shut down to comply with stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders issued by state and local government agencies to try to slow the spread of COVID-19–and trying to reschedule MotoAmerica events that are being postponed due to the closures.

In addition to the MotoAmerica event at COTA (April 3-5) being postponed until November 13-15, the Road Atlanta event April 17-19 has been postponed until July 31-August 2, and the event scheduled May 1-3 at VIRginia International Raceway will likely be postponed or possibly cancelled altogether.

“Our goal is to still have a 10-race series,” said Rainey. “What that looks like at the end of the year might not look like what the schedule looks like now. The dates have already changed for some of the events, and maybe even some of the tracks will change.

“We don’t know how long this is going to go. We know for the foreseeable future, at least the next month and a half, it looks like there’s going to be some effect, but we’re trying to get in front of it. We’re looking at all of our events. We’re talking to all of the tracks. We’re seeing what the protocol is with the local governments and what we’re allowed to do. And we’re looking at those options and trying to do the best we can to make sure we have a 10-race calendar.”

Rainey knows MotoAmerica may need to get creative to get 10 events in during 2020, and many hypothetical options are on the table, including running a televised event with a downsized paddock and no spectators at a non-traditional venue. But MotoAmerica racing will not resume until it’s safe to do so, Rainey said.

“[Shelter-in-place orders] need to be lifted everywhere,” said Rainey. “Nothing is normal right now. Nothing is predictable. All we can do is try to get in front of it, try to make the best decisions we can on whatever the situation may be, and adjust, and try to make it work the best we can. When this season is over, I’m sure it’s going to be a heck of a story.”

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