Like so many other people, the world’s best motocross racers will not be visiting the region this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic
While the cancellation of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Induction Weekend has grabbed headlines across the country, the cancellation of the Unadilla National at Unadilla MX has deprived the Leatherstocking region of another signature summer event. Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship released its revised schedule for the 2020 season Friday, July 17, and the track was not slated to host one of the nine races named.
“It’s the first time in 50 years there hasn’t been a pro race here,” Unadilla MX president Greg Robinson told The Daily Star on Thursday. “We started in 1969 with some amateur races and in 1970 we started with pro racing. It’s tragic, actually.”
Tragic, Robinson said, in part because of his estimates about the economic impact of the event’s cancellation. Robinson estimated that the event draws about $20 million in revenue to the area, makes up about 60% of the track’s annual revenue and serves as a key or only fundraiser for other local groups like American Legion posts and fire departments.
Mayor of Unadilla David Welch downplayed the event as a revenue driver for the village, speculating that it is a bigger business boon for municipalities farther north, closer to the track’s New Berlin location.
For Robinson, whose father, Ward, opened the track just more than 50 years ago, the emotional struggle of a mostly quiet summer has mirrored the economic strain. He likened a summer with limited racing to losing a family member.
Without the ability to welcome spectators, part of the state government’s attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, Unadilla MX turned to a limited number of smaller events. The track has hosted practice days for local riders, and has two days of J-Day Offroad Racing, a regional circuit, slated for Aug. 15-16.
The NYCM Insurance MX Rewind is slated for Aug. 28-30, but Robinson said all upcoming events are “up in the air.”
“I can tell you it’s probably the most stressful events we have ever had to run,” Robinson said. “You’re constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for someone to shut you down. It’s tough. Unfortunately our state is looking to turn businesses away rather than help them out and that’s just the environment we are in.”
Chenango County announced Monday it lost a seventh resident to the virus, while nearby Otsego County reported a slight spike in COVID-19 cases the previous week.
The new Pro Motocross schedule includes one race in Jacksonville, Florida and one in Pala, California. Florida and California have been among the states hit hardest by the pandemic in recent weeks.