Racers return to Washougal MX Park

Date of national event to be announced

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Motocross riders race at an event held May 8-9 at Washougal MX Park. The motocross park reopened to riders recently, but has rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Contributed photos courtesy of Ryan Huffman)

Racing is back on at the Washougal MX Park, but motocross enthusiasts have a whole new set of COVID-19 rules and regulations to contend with.

The park opened for recreational riding on Friday and Saturday, May 8-9, and again on Saturday and Sunday, May 23-24. Huffman said that “most of the people were pretty cool with (the restrictions).”

“On our first rec day, out of the 200 people that came through, I’d say between six and 10 cringed at the rules,” Huffman said. “But, for the most part, everybody was pretty respectful. There were some people that struggled, and that was to be expected. They want to come here and connect with their friends and family.”

Governor Jay Inslee’s phased reopening plan allowed motocross facilities in Washington to begin slowly reopening — first to riders and eventually to families and fans — on May 14. The facilities must meet strict requirements to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 and must only conduct activities allowed under their county’s phase status.

In response to a request from the Post-Record about the park’s opening, Marissa Armstrong, communications specialist for Clark County Public Health, said that “(we don’t) ‘approve’ businesses or venues to reopen under the governor’s order. The decision on what is allowed to open in each phase is made by the governor’s office.”

“I’ve never been so far out of my comfort zone,” Huffman said. “I’m not a lawyer or consultant, so reading through this COVID-19 stuff is something else. My mind is absolutely full of guidelines, restrictions, proclamations and amendments. I have all of these orders laying on the floor of my living room, and I’m constantly reviewing them to make sure that I don’t mess anything up. The reason that I don’t want to mess anything up is that I want the park to stay open for people to enjoy.”

Of course, Huffman has been receiving a lot of questions about the status of the Lucas Oil Pro Motorsports Championships’ (LOPMC) Washougal National event.

On Monday, June 1, the Race Leadership Team (RLT), a governing body of professional motocross organizational leaders, announced that the 2020 LOPMC season will begin on Saturday, July 18, with the Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and end on Saturday, Oct. 10, with the Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

The dates of the remaining nine races, including the Washougal event (originally scheduled for Saturday, July 25) have yet to be determined.

“These varying state approaches have created unique challenges for the 2020 Pro Motocross Championship, as several of the preeminent venues are situated in restrictive states that may or may not permit large gatherings during the time frame currently planned for the series,” according to a news release issued by the RLT.

“While the opening round of the season has been the only confirmed event as of today, the RLT is diligently working towards compiling a national championship schedule by closely monitoring the reopening plans for each respective state on the initial Pro Motocross calendar, while event organizers continue to communicate with their respective local officials. Announcements pertaining to the confirmation of additional rounds will come in phases, as more dates and venues are determined and solidified. ”

According to the park’s website, all competitive events have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. For now, only recreational riding is allowed.

“We ran as a recreational outdoor activity day the first weekend, according to the governor’s orders for recreation and outdoor use,” Huffman said. “We are still running that way until our first competition, which we can’t have according to the latest governor’s order.”

Under the Phase 1 guidelines, motocross park employees are required to keep their buildings and equipment sterilized, wash their hands frequently, practice safe social distancing and be screened for signs of the coronavirus at the start of their shifts. They’re also strongly encouraged to decline cash payments and keep a log of all customers.

“Our goal is to meet or exceed the outdoor recreation guidelines and as well as the workplace guidelines,” Huffman said. “We can provide a safe environment and manage the facility in a responsible manner. However, it’s up to the patrons to follow the guidelines and restrictions set in place by the government so that we can move forward with no bad marks or repercussions. It hasn’t been easy, and I don’t agree with it all, but we have to do what we have to do be be safe and work with the government and see the bigger picture.”

Park users are required to wear facial coverings in areas where proper social distancing cannot be maintained; arrive with only same-household occupants in their vehicles; and park at least 15 feet away from the next closest vehicle. Riders must line up at least 8 feet away from each other at the starting lines. And for now, at least, no spectators are allowed.

Those policies have been hard for some people to come to accept, Huffman said.

“I’m dealing with people that struggle with the rules and regulations of our facility (imposed by the) government guidelines,” he said. “But to me, it’s not about agreeing with or disagreeing with certain beliefs. It’s about understanding that we have to do what the government tells us to do. We’re not making the rules. The rules are there for us to follow. That’s easier to do than getting our doors shut down. We’re moving forward to implement a plan that allows us to stay open.”