Updated story here:
No tickets will be sold to an event that usually draws more than 20,000 fans
UPDATE: Organizers called off the Washougal MX National on Friday, eight days before the event was to take place. A story will be posted soon. The story, below, posted on Wednesday, and everything was still a go at that point. But on Friday, the national motocross event was cancelled. As of Aug. 15, amateur racing was still a go, staring Aug. 20.
The Washougal MX National is a little late this year, and a little early this year.
And those aren’t the only changes.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is set to begin this weekend in Tennessee, but then the series will head to the Northwest for its annual stop in Clark County. The big event is Aug. 22 at the Washougal MX Park.
In a normal year, the Washougal MX National is held in July. Also in a normal year, the National is the eighth or ninth round of the series. This year, it is the second round, as the outdoor series was delayed due to the pandemic.
And unlike any other year, crowds will be limited. So limited, in fact, no tickets are being sold. For the most part, this will be a non-spectator event.
Ryan Huffman, the track manager, said he expects the few who are at the track will “exceed expectations” for social distancing and other guidelines to manage life in the pandemic.
Amateur racing will take play Aug. 20-21 and the day after the National, on Aug. 22. Many of those riders, and their family members who live in the same household, will have the opportunity to camp at the property. Those people would be allowed to watch the pros race on the Saturday.
Huffman said that space will be limited, though.
In a normal year, the property allows for more than 1,200 campsites. This year, only 350 or so campsites will be allowed. For anyone who has not been to the property, there is plenty of space to gain some social distancing space.
The Washougal MX National is annually the biggest sporting event in Clark County in terms of spectators. It is estimated between 25,000 and 30,000 people watch the pros every year.
“Not ideal, but it’s something,” Huffman said.
“We’re all dealing with crazy times. I am grateful and thankful in these hard times to even be at this point,” he added. “We are here doing what we can.”
While tickets will not be sold, Huffman and his staff are looking forward to showcasing one of the most scenic motocross courses in the world. The motos will be shown on various TV and internet broadcasts. For that schedule, go to promotocross.com.
Huffman said he would not be surprised if TV ratings are up this year.
“People are looking for things to watch,” he said.
“I want to praise the crew I have. We’re doing this with a smaller crew than ever,” Huffman said. “It will still look pretty darn good. It’s still the Northwest’s green and pristine track.”
Curtis Paulson, the track announcer at Washougal MX Park, is ready to call all the amatuer races, just like any other year. This year, though, he also will be one of the people on the microphone for the National. He has worked in many different roles at the track since 1999. This year will be different, for sure.
But at least Washougal kept its stop on the series.
For motorcycle fans, it is a big deal to have a race in the Northwest, Paulson said. The Supercross event scheduled for Seattle earlier in the year was called off. With no Supercross, that leaves Motocross as the only “home” event for the Northwest.
He also is excited to see Washougal in the early part of the series schedule. When Washougal was the eighth or ninth round, there were times when the series leader had a huge lead and there was not much suspense. Or, many riders had been banged up and either could not ride or took a break the week of Washougal.
“These guys are all going to be fresh, coming off just one event,” Paulson said. “I think we’ll pretty much have a full field.”
It won’t look the same. Can’t replicate 25,000 fans. Won’t sound the same, either.
But Paulson makes a good point:
“It’s still racing.”