The first sporting event in the area could be happening in two weeks, if all goes as planned at High Point Raceway near Mount Morris.
The 1.8-mile motocross track is scheduled to host the Northeast Amateur Regional Championship Series June 5-7.
High Point Raceway has annually hosted the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, which draws crowds of about 15,000 and is televised nationally. That event, however, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Tuesday. The pro series postponed all races until after July 4. High Point Raceway is expected to get a fall date for that series but nothing has been finalized.
The amateur series has not been postponed. The racetrack drew attention Thursday when state Health Secretary Rachel Levine, during a daily teleconference with reporters, was asked why racing at High Point would be allowed but youth baseball and softball games are prohibited. Levine said she was not aware of the motocross event and would check into the situation.
“I think this was misrepresented by the way the question was asked,” said Tim Cotter, Director of Events for Racer Productions, which promotes races at High Point.
Cotter said he was sent a video clip of the question being asked, and he hinted that the person who submitted the query had the amateur event confused with the pro event because the crowd size mentioned was in the thousands.
“This is a much, much smaller event,” Cotter said. “The pro event draws a nice-sized crowd, but let’s not pretend the amateur event is something that it is not. These are more family-based events.”
Cotter said racers must preregister for the amateur events.
“You can’t simply show up and ride,” he said. “Right now, we have 279 unique racers and it looks like we’ll end up with about 315. This is an amateur event. This is not a spectator-based event. We’re not going to advertise it as a spectator event. We’re not going to have signage billboards like we would for the pro event.”
Cotter is part of the 42-member Safe To Race Task Force, which has produced a 23-page document detailing how to safely restart motor racing during the pandemic.
A Grand National Cross Country motocross event was held last weekend in Washington, Ga., and Cotter, who was in attendance, said it went off without a hitch. Protocols like spacing in the registration line, social distancing and limited team members were enforced, and wearing face masks was encouraged.
Georgia, however, was one of the first states that reopened since the pandemic started. Pennsylvania has not reopened and Greene County remains in the yellow phase, though Cotter is hopeful that it will be in the green phase by the time the amateur races are held.
Cott added that he has been in contact with the Greene County Commissioners office and its tourism office to discuss details of the June races at the 250-acre High Point venue.
In addition to the races at the High Point, which will include 12 classes of competitors, the Northeast Amateur Regional Championship Series has an event scheduled for Pleasant Valley Raceway in Seward, Westmoreland County, June 12-14.
“All the things we can do to adhere to the guidelines, we will do,” Cotter said.