Track Talk: How Might The Coronavirus Affect Motorsports In The Upcoming 2021 Season?

Based on what we are hearing about the coronavirus inoculations, they will go to the elderly and first responders immediately. Following that effort, then it will go to the general public. A large percentage of the general public will be concerned about side effects and might defer taking the medicine. Some race fans who attend the modified races on a regular basis may still fear catching the deadly virus and will stay home. The virtual internet broadcasts offered by just about all of the tracks involved do help to add income to the hosting track’s bottom line. Let all of us hope and pray that this second spike in the coronavirus fades away in the upcoming months and by the 2021 spring season this nightmare will be over.

According to Catchfence, Raphael Lessard Racing announced that the young Quebec driver will race in select races in the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). He will drive a Silverado prepared by the dominant GMS Racing organization that finished in the top three places in the championship in 2021. In 2015, Raphael completed his first full season in the Maine based PASS North series with his own in-house team. Racing in the United States forced him to learn English. To do this, he spent at least four hours a week in private classes and is now fully operational in English as a professional racing driver. Over the same period, former NASCAR driver and current team owner David Gilliland was impressed enough with the young man’s potential to include him in his team for the last four races of the PASS North Tour 2015 season. Lessard ran well enough in those four races to end the season in 7th position in the Championship, with three Top-10 finishes. Lessard also raced in the Menards ARCA Series among many other racing sanctioned clubs​.

It appears that the Tour Type Modifieds that race on pavement tracks in New England, New York and New Jersey as well as Virginia and the Carolinas have 25 confirmed dates between the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Tri-Track Open Modified Series, Race of Champions and two CT venues Stafford Speedway and Thompson Speedway that hold Opens. Another 20 or more could be added by the Race of Champions, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the Modified Racing Series in the upcoming winter months. Bear in mind that the racing season, up this way, is just 31 weeks within a seven-month season , April through October. In past years we’ve had 50 of those events with race date conflicts between tracks/sanctions that also have resulted in shortages of entries due to the limitations of those Tour Type Modified race cars. Most of those tracks need at least 24 entries for a full field. When a track has to pay a big purse the ticket prices are anywhere from $20 -$40 per admission into the grandstand. Add another $10 bucks if you want to mingle with the competitors in the pits and that’s costly. Especially if you travel to the race with a spouse or significant other. Besides the date conflicts there’s the weather to consider and now the Corona Virus which has put limits on how many tickets for the grandstands that can be sold.

James Rispoli of Londonderry, NH is a key figure in the new wave of high-profile motorcycle road racers who have returned to their dirt track roots as of late even after enjoying global-scale success on pavement. More than a decade ago, Rispoli was one of the brightest stars in the flat track world. He finished the 2009 season as the GNC2 championship runner-up, trailing only future Grand National Champion Brad Baker while placing ahead of such talents as Jeffrey Carver Jr, JD Beach, and Shayna Texter. Shortly thereafter, Rispoli struck off in search of road racing success, the result of which was a pair of AMA SuperSport national championships and British Supersport stardom. He also found the time to make record-breaking runs at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Rispoli came back to the American Flat Track in 2019 and did well to shake off the rust and pick up where he left off. He claimed four podiums and eight top-tens in AFT Production Twins competition, while securing another five top-tens in the hotly contested AFT Singles series. Rispoli boasts an ideal blend of natural ability, charisma, and bravado. His flashy riding style and consistently entertaining work on the mic make him a favorite among fans of dirt track and road racing, both stateside and abroad. In 2020, Rispoli was found piloting the No. 43 Harley-Davidson XG750R for Latus Motors Racing in the AFT Production Twins class in which he won the 2020 championship.

We have to note that in the early days of NASCAR, Joe Weatherly and Paul Goldsmith were successful motorcycle racers who transitioned successfully from two wheels to the four-wheel NASCAR action.

Not so successful has been SuperX standout Travis Pastrana, who gave NASCAR a try in recent years with a few top 10s over two seasons in the Xfinity Series, before returning to race bikes.

Switching to the flat track motorcycle racing,  Sammy Hulbert ended up third overall in that series in 2020 behind Brian Bauman and Jared Mees. Hulbert is the rider for the Coolbeth-Nila Team and rides an Indian Scout. The principal on that team is Kenny Coolbeth who hails from New Milford, CT. Coolbeth is a multi-time American Flat Track champion.

(news and information in this report was collected from various sources on the Internet and via e-mail)

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One Thought to “Track Talk: How Might The Coronavirus Affect Motorsports In The Upcoming 2021 Season?”

  1. I haven’t heard, but I fully expect the NASCAR broadcast team to still be remote and for the stands to still have limited seating until a much greater percentage fo the population has been vaccinated. It will be another weird year for sports for sure.

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