“The pandemic showed that our motorcycling community is resilient” - FIM North America President Robert Dingman
2020 has been a special year for everyone. In the CONU Presidents’ update series, the leaders of the FIM’s Continental Unions describe the main challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and what people could learn from these extraordinary times.
Like all the other continental unions, FIM North America also faced the strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year has been unprecedented in terms of the disruption of motorcycling activity in North America due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Not only were the businesses of our member federations threatened by this disruption but our event organizers and individual members were severely impacted negatively as well”, says FIM North America President Robert Dingman.
The worst time for North America was during the early spring when people were still just learning about the pandemic.
“This also coincided with the beginning of the racing and riding season in much of North America. By April, at least 20 American states had issued stay-at-home orders and other directives prohibiting events such as motorcycle races and many others soon followed.”
Early on in the pandemic, virtually all events were cancelled or postponed in North America.
“It was imperative to find a way to get back to racing in the face of this major public health crisis. Fortunately, we were able to get back to racing, although in many instances without spectators. Since the shutdowns occurred during the supercross season, after a significant delay, the remaining rounds had to be completed at a single location with no spectators. We were able to get back to racing with different requirements in place in different locations.”
A Safe-To-Race Task Force was formed that included representatives of FIMNA member federation, the American Motorcyclist Association, to compile best practices and create necessary tools for event organizers to support them in their resumption of racing events.
“The task force developed a toolkit that provided recommendations including developing a medical action plan for symptomatic event participants, attendees or crew members; prohibiting overnight camping for one-day events; requiring vehicles to be parked 10 feet apart; closing bleachers and other fixed spectator seating; eliminating fan activities like autograph-signing sessions and podium celebrations; using advance registration to limit participation; encouraging the use of credit cards for on-site payment and having competitors bring their own pens to sign documents.”
Although FIM North America had used online meeting tools such as Zoom prior to the pandemic, they took the advantage of them a great deal more over the last nine months.
“Zoom meetings can’t replace in-person meetings in the long-term because more can be accomplished through in-person face-to-face interaction, but they have served as a good short-term substitute for meetings to which we could not travel and while our staff is working remotely. I think we will continue to use online meeting tools in the future, but as a supplement to in-person meetings rather than a replacement.”
Mr Dingman admits that despite all the harm the pandemic cost, it also made people to understand something valuable.
“What I think we have learned from the pandemic is that our motorcycling community is resilient and by working together we could find a safe way to continue to participate in our sport even in the face of a global health crisis.”
Mr Dingman wants to give a special recognition to all the volunteers who made it possible to have motorcycling events.
“This year has been so much more difficult on our volunteers. The work that they do in an ordinary year is hard enough but meeting all the requirements imposed on all of us by our governments has made it so much more difficult. Our volunteers are to be commended for their efforts to get us back to racing in the safest way possible.”
FIM North America and its leaders are getting ready for the new year with patient minds.
“The year will start out much like the current year is ending with continued restrictions. The situation should improve as the year goes on however and hopefully by the middle of the year we will have found our new normal.”