News 27 Oct 2020

Mid-week Supercross races could become permanent fixture

'SuperTuesday' to take place throughout extraordinary 2021 schedule.

Image: Octopi Media.

The addition of mid-week races in Monster Energy Supercross could become a permanent fixture long-term following the success of this year’s Salt Lake City rounds and Feld Motor Sports will once again experiment with the concept through 2021.

A full 17-round schedule was announced earlier today that will see a series of states and cities play host to the championship and, among those, four ‘SuperTuesday’ events have already been confirmed.

It was a previously untapped success story in taking Supercross mid-week as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in encouraging ratings and widespread approval among those within the industry. Now, Houston, Indianapolis, Glendale and Arlington will all feature the Tuesday races in a landmark moment for the sport and that trend could continue into future years.

However, with fans now to be welcomed back and in attendance for 2021, it will add another complexity in ensuring ticket sales remain strong across the mid-week shows. This entire season will serve as a forced experiment of sorts to effectively keep Supercross on track.

“Although it’s a forced experiment, it’s an experiment all the same,” commented Dave Prater, Feld Motor Sports director of operations – Supercross. “So, I think we’ll definitely take whatever learnings we can and if it’s successful, build on it eventually. Who’s to say? We haven’t introduced fans, we don’t know what these Tuesday events will end up with – especially live events – but it’s definitely something that’s on our minds and something that we’re going to watch closely.

“There’s a few reasons for that. One is the limited availability of cities and stadiums that will allow fans at the moment and then, with the limited capacity, if we could sell 50 percent or 100 percent – as many as we can – then that gives us a lot more options to go to different cities. However, those different cities aren’t always there and that’s what we’ve found. It was a forced experiment, but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out and see as things open up, how many venues we can potentially race at.

“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.”

The cadence of three races per week will be the same as Salt Lake City was this year, except for going Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday this time around, compared to the Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday schedule of Utah. While unrelenting in that aspect, the schedule has by chance enabled the series to be held in blocks, with two-weekend breaks coming during early February and March.

“We did our best with the abbreviated schedule, meaning that we were going to be racing three times in eight days most of the year with the exception of Indy and Daytona,” Prater added. “We knew that we were going to go into this and doing that many events, three races in eight days consecutively for five-six weeks was going to be extremely challenging.

“We went into it hopeful that it would play out like it did, but there were a lot of different variables coming out of different venues with the NFL. Everything’s kind of shifting around and we were hoping to announce this a couple of weeks ago, but that caused us to pump the brakes. Luckily, as of last Friday, everything solidified and we were able to get it in. It was a little bit of luck as well.

“Everyone seemed to be okay and almost enjoy the cadence of Salt Lake City. As you’re racing more, you race that first event and you get a two-day break, you race again and, obviously now you’ve raced twice, so you get an extra day of rest before the third race. That was the only thought process behind it. And NBC explained to use that as far as viewership, the Tuesday-Wednesday wasn’t really going to move the needle – either one would be the same.”