This week’s rapidly rising concern over the coronavirus pandemic has rattled the professional motorsports world, forcing the postponement or cancellation of major dates, and altering how others will be run. It’s hard to imagine a world-class race set against a background of no spectators.
For last weekend’s Mint 400 promoters, the race was held just under the wire. Mint 400 CEO Matt Martelli was candid about his concern this week, stating that there was talk of changing the race’s plans but also noted that nothing evolved from those initial discussions to alter the event’s execution.
While the Mint was safe, for the moment three other events are still on the schedule – at least for now. Two, however, have been canceled.
Fresh off of its triumphant King of the Hammers race in February, Ultra4 this week made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Lasernut Stampede, scheduled for March 20th near Sacramento, Calif.
“We have consulted experts from a variety of fields and believe under the current circumstances our decision is ultimately what is best,” read a statement distributed by Ultra4 management. “We want to be clear that as of today we are not being forced to cancel this event by any involved authorities. However, with the uncertainty that exists surrounding the COVID-19 situation, a last-minute mandated cancellation was probable.”
Lucas Oil also cancelled this weekend’s Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series (LOORRS) season-opener in Glen Helen, Calif., but this was due to concerns about a rainy week in Southern California and nothing to do with the virus.
The Best in the Desert (BITD) organization is moving forward with its next UTV, quad and motorcycle race, scheduled for March 20 – 22 in Laughlin, Nevada. On Thursday BITD issue a formal update about its plans: “We just want everyone to know that we are moving forward with the Jagged X National Desert Cup presented by Quantum Motorsports and have no plans to cancel or postpone the even due to the Corona virus. We’ve researched this matter extensively, consulted with specialists in the field and do not feel that competing in an off-road racing event will not pose any additional risks.”
A far more impactful event in terms of desert racing is scheduled to take place at weekend later (March 24 – 29) at the San Felipe 250, SCORE International’s season kick-off. With no known cases of coronavirus in Baja and traffic allowed at the Mexican border, racers can continue their preparation for one of the most popular events in the sport.
“At this time there is no reason for us to cancel it,” said SCORE International’s Roger Norman. “We don’t have grandstand seating; everyone is spread apart enough in our environment. We are looking at changing how things like our driver’s meeting and awards are conducted, but the race itself is still a go.”
Hopefully benefitting from the gift of more time is the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and its 2020 Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 presented by Method Wheel. Scheduled for April 17 – 24, the multi-day race will run competitors from the starting line in Ensenada to land’s end in San Jose Del Cabo.
“As of this point there are no plans to cancel the race,” said NORRA President Mike Pearlman. “We are going to change a few things in registration, so people don’t come in contact with each other. We are going to alter the tech inspection a little bit and taking precautions in other areas as well. So, no, we are not going to cancel as of right now. But if they close the border that could all change.”