As motorbike racing returns to CSRA, spectators are absent — as intended

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020
News 12 This Morning

WASHINGTON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- We got our first taste of sports over the weekend in the CSRA, and safety was on the front of everyone's mind.

The Grand National Cross Country off-road racing series picked back up in Washington after eight weeks off.

Sports are great at bringing people together whose interests are similar. But at this event, the differences were impossible to ignore.

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Engines were roaring, but the audience was near silent. Gas tanks were full, but fence lines normally lined with people were empty. Spectators were encouraged to stay home.

"Our teams have been working at every little minute piece of our business and figured out how to go racing outside," said Tim Cotter, director of events for the GNCC.

Holding the races is a risk, because all eyes are on this as the first sporting event since the pandemic.

"We don't take it lightly," said Cotter. "It's very sobering to be the first."

The GNCC brought together a team of 42 medical, technical and security experts to make sure they had enough safety measures in place.

"We got a lot of input from people that are much smarter than us to develop these protocols," Cotter said.

Protocols like spacing in the registration line, cashless transactions and limited team members turned the possibility of bringing racing back into a reality.

"It's a tremendous relief," said Cotter through a mask, which are required for all staff. "It's almost emotional for us."

Protocols they hope set the standard for racing all over the country.

"We're hoping that through what we're doing here, that we'll create a document, create a protocol for motor sports tracks across the U.S. to look at and say, 'OK, this is how we can do it,'" said Cotter.

For riders like Josh Strang, it's been eight weeks of preparation and waiting.

"I was just staying in shape and staying ready to go when the opportunity came," he said.

Now that the opportunity is here, he's ready to get back on the bike.

"It's good to be back," Strang said. "I think everyone's just excited to get out of the house and get in some riding."

Cotter said overall, the races went well. Organizers will continue to make improvements as the season goes along. They have more races in Washington this weekend before heading up to South Carolina next weekend.

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