October 19, 2020

IMS Winter Tour Canceled, Outside Events Will Fill 2021

Honda booth at 2016 IMS in New York

In what can be viewed as a forced and potentially still risky move given the uncertainty caused by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows tour will be rebranded and move outside in 2021.

The previously revealed slate of eight indoor shows for 2020-2021 – starting in Long Beach, CA in November and ending in Chicago in February – has been scrapped. That includes the planned Dec. 4-6 stop at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

The shift to a fresh air environment comes after 421 indoor events in an estimated 25 cities over the past 39 years.  

Instead of the traditional format of cramming motorcycle enthusiasts into convention halls, the tour will feature a series of festival-style outdoor shows. They will be staged from May through early October in “unique outdoor venues,” according the tour’s senior vice president, Tracy Harris.

The shows will “reflect the local culture and community through music, food and other activities. Demo rides will be the cornerstone of the experience,” Harris said, adding that they will include street and off-road models as well as e-bikes for all ages.

The locations have yet to be set. Some 15 to 16 sites are under consideration. More are expected to express interest as word of the shift spreads.

Eight to 10 locations are expected to be selected, with a stop in the Northeast in the mix. An announcement of tour stops on the rebranded “Progressive IMS Outdoors” circuit is expected in early December.

The scope of the shows will be expanded to include recreational vehicles, overland products and other “adjacent lifestyles” as well the demo rides that weren’t possible during winter visits to cold weather cities under the previous format.

Lime Rock Park Wants To Host

Lime Rock Park racetrack in Lakeville, CT is looking to secure a slot on the “IMS Outdoors” calendar. “We made contact and we’re going to open some discussions,” said Walter Irvine, the track’s vice president of sales, on Tuesday afternoon. The racetrack offers not only the space required for such an event, but already has ties in the motorcycle community, routinely draws from the region, and is used to handling large crowds. “Can we accommodate it? I can’t imagine that we can’t,” said Irvine. “Lime Rock would be keen to consider it.” RIDE-CT & RIDE-New England also contacted New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH to gauge interest, but hasn’t heard back.

Harris said camping and RV spots will be available at most of the Progressive IMS Outdoors events. As in the past, the shows will feature vendors and a bike building competition.

What remains unknown is the pandemic’s status in 2021. Harris said the Progressive IMS Outdoors tour has developed an “all secure” protocol to keep attendees safe, but the shows may be impacted by local restrictions.

While price of admission may be adjusted to reflect any cost fluctuation in staging the events, the outdoor shows could potentially convince more motorcycle manufacturers to show off their products.

Manufacturer participation in the IMS tour has dipped in recent years, partially due to the high costs associated with showing at indoor convention centers versus the perceived benefit. New York was an especially troublesome location because of pricey union requirements.

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Since 2010, RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland has been reporting about motorcycling in New England and portions of New York.

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