Washougal, Start your engines: National motocross event returns to Washougal this week

Pro racing event, which normally draws thousands to area, was canceled in 2020 due COVID-19 pandemic

The Washougal National is back.

Canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event will return to Washougal MX Park on Saturday, July 24. The park will host amateur races Wednesday, July 21 through Friday, July 23.

The event, which normally draws thousands of visitors to the Washougal motocross park, will feature racing in two classes of competition this year — the youth-driven 250 class, spearheaded by the sport’s most promising young talent, and the premier 450 class, led by motocross’ high-profile stars.

The Washougal National marks the start of the second half of the championship’s 12-race season, which most recently stopped in Millville, Minnesota, for the Spring Creek National on July 17.

Tim Cotter, the event director for MX Sports, said the Washougal National has been “circled on the calendar since (MX Sports) had to pull the plug a year ago.”

Voting to cancel the 2020 races was one of the most difficult decisions he’s ever made, Cotter added.

“I would call it excruciatingly difficult because it hurt the fan base up there,” Cotter said. “We are very excited to be able to bring the world’s best pro motocross riders to the Northwest. It’s going to be a great celebration.”

The event is one of the sport’s marquee showcases thanks to its “impeccable scenery, truly unique and challenging layout, and one-of-a-kind home crowd,” according to a news release issued by the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

“It’s the most picturesque venue on our circuit,” Cotter said. “It’s a postcard. Nobody goes to Washougal and says, ‘That was a terrible experience.’ And as someone who has been going to these races for over 40 years, Washougal has the best track food of any place. It’s fabulous. It’s like going out to dinner. It’s just to die for.”

The Washougal motocross park will allow spectators this year, but is limiting general admission ticket sales to stay below the state’s COVID-19 guidelines for large-group gatherings.

“Our managers and staff are working hard to create the best possible outcome for our upcoming event,” the Washougal MX Park staff wrote on the park’s Facebook site. “We are working through guidelines provided by our state and governor that will work for our spectators, riders, MX Sports and our management and staff. We understand that this stuff is very confusing and not ironed out perfectly for every situation. We are doing our best to provide what we can.”

“We are proceeding with caution, but for a spectator looking in, it’s going to look like Washougal’s back to normal,” Cotter said. “I anticipate an overwhelming crowd, a very enthusiastic crowd. The fan base there is stellar. They are vocal. They’re passionate. And they’re really going to be rabid when they get in there.”

The event organizers will use “an honor system” instead of asking spectators to prove their vaccination status.

“Washougal MX Park is not segregating spectators — no separate entrances, no separate lines,” MX Park staff wrote on the Facebook post. (We are asking people to be) conscious that we are positively doing what we have to do in order for us to host round seven of the Pro Motocross Nationals, and we are doing our part for the Pacific Northwest and the rest of moto fans worldwide.”

The circuit has welcomed full-capacity crowds at each of its first six events of the 2021 season, and most recently announced the return of limited pit access for “VIP” ticket purchasers.

“We recognize our fans are extremely eager to get back to a sense of normalcy at the races, which has been made very evident by the massive crowds on hand for the first three rounds of the season,” Davey Coombs, president of MX Sports Pro Racing, stated in a news release. “However, we have to stress the importance of a communal approach to our ongoing reopening process. We respect the needs of every individual entity that contributes to the overall success of this championship and are continuously striving for a level of compromise that appeases everyone.”

Dylan Ferrandis (Avignon, France) currently sits atop the championship’s 450 class standings with a 32-point advantage over Ken Roczen (Mattstedt, Germany). The competition for the top spot in the 250 class is even closer, with Justin Cooper of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, holding a six-point lead over Jett Lawrence of Landsborough, Queensland, Australia.

Ferrandis won the 250 race at Washougal in 2019, with Eli Tomac (Cortez, Colorado) taking top honors in the 450 class. Tomac currently sits in third place in the 450 standings.

“It’s anybody’s race,” Cotter said. “In the 450 class, there’s any one of 10 guys that could win (the championship). The 250 class is really, really good right now, and no one is a clear favorite, I think. It’s all very dynamic. It changes lap after lap.”

Washougal native Levi Kitchen, who made his professional debut earlier this month on July 3, at the RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan, is not scheduled to compete at his home track this weekend.

Tickets for the event must be purchased ahead of time. General admission to the pro and amateur events July 21-24 costs $75, plus service fees. A general admission ticket for the pro races only on Saturday, July 24, costs $60 plus fees for ticket processing. Parking passes, which cost $15 plus servicing fees, also are required. Tickets also are available for spectators who want to camp at the site, get early access to the pit area or VIP “Shoug Deck,” or take 10-minute helicopter rides over the Washougal MX Park and surrounding area.

To purchase tickets, visit washougalmx.ticketspice.com/washougal2021.