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Well, who would have thought that the 2020 Motocross of Nations would be run at Matterley Basin? The news really shocked the industry this morning, hence why there was really only one person to talk to. Steve Dixon, promoter of the British Grand Prix at Matterley and now the MXoN, explains how the decision to run the event came about, what it could look like and more in this MX Vice exclusive.
MX Vice: When did you first hear about this then? Have you been in talks with Infront all along, as a bit of a back-up plan?
Steve Dixon: Yesterday [being Wednesday].
Yeah, basically. Well, maybe the day before that. They were like, "What would you think of running the MXoN at Matterley?" I said, "What, instead of France? You know me. I am up for anything." I do not know anything about what the situation will be in England, like whether we will allow fans or the race to go ahead. I spoke to the police and stuff like that, and they were okay with it. It basically all depends on what the government guidelines are.
If we are not allowed any fans then, would you have to pull the plug on this? Infront obviously want to see the MXoN run as well.
I think that if you can't have fans, then it would not go ahead. I do not think there is enough in the pot to do it otherwise. They would have had it in France if that was the case, wouldn't they?
True. What about all of the stuff that you have to think about? Fencing, security and all of that. Is it even possible to source all of that?
Even though it has been a short time, I have spoken to all of the suppliers. I know that a lot of events are getting cancelled, like festivals and stuff like that, but those are generally run by large companies that don't want to take a risk. For me, there is not really a risk. Nothing has to be booked yet, so nothing has to be parted with. The act is the riders, who will be told to go by their teams or whatever. It is not like you have to book up Beyoncé and pay a couple of grand upfront, and then you risk losing a load of money with no fans.
It is much more free flowing with me, because it is only one person who has to make the decision. It is not like I have to go to a club and then we all get the jitters. I ran the MXoN two years ago, at the end of the day, and I have already run a Grand Prix this year. I have my event-management plans. If it does get all of the permissions and crowds are allowed, but they say there has to be social distancing for this and that then that is just the way it is.
It would just be a minimal amount of press, for instance, and other people would have to feed off of those press people. You could not have all of the team managers in the press room on social media and all of that. It would just be like, "Right. The results are on this website, so download it and there is no paper." The paddock would be the same. Who knows what life will be like in three months though?
The good thing is that, compared to Ernee, you do have the space to make social distancing happen. You have got as much space as you could possibly need.
We normally close off a couple of loops, so we could actually increase the space. Ernee has probably four hundred metres of frontage, that bottom line, whereas we have like two kilometres. You could come down and loop in by the oak trees, because most of the time we are trying to make it more compact, so it looks like a bigger crowd is there. You could have coloured sections and feed however many people into there, who then stay in that bubble. There are all sorts of things that could go ahead, as needed. I think that everyone will be more used to whatever life is like three months down the line. No one knows what it is going to be though.
It is quite free flowing at the minute, like you said, but I guess that you could back out of this quite easily if things start to stack against you. If it does work though…
The onus is not on me. I am not trying to step in and make money, and I'm not desperate to run it either. We all have a responsibility to try and get our industries going, at the end of the day, no matter whether that is horse racing or motocross. Someone has to go forward at some point. I am sure that there will be some people who complain, but nothing will be done without authority. You could have tens of thousands of people walking around the streets in London, and that is effectively a gathering. People have their own sensible head on now anyway. That is if we are allowed crowds though…
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Ray Archer
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