Poll: Should NASCAR restart racing next week?

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We’re all eager for life to get back to normal. For motor sport fans that means the resumption of racing.

But while the pandemic has prompted many series to put off racing until June, July or later still, NASCAR will resume racing next weekend.

Being among the first sports to resume will undoubtedly bring extra attention to the series. However bringing together drivers, team staff, championship officials and everyone else needed to run a race inevitably carries a risk given the current situation. Is NASCAR doing the right thing?

For

NASCAR is taking steps to minimise the potential threat from the pandemic. Schedules will be compressed into a single day, limits on the number of attendees will be set and, of course, the stands will not be open to fans.

It is not the first sport to have resumed competition. South Korea’s football K League played earlier this week and Germany’s Bundesliga is due to resume on Saturday.

While international motor sport series such as Formula 1 are not due to race until July, their participants have to cross borders to attend races, multiplying the complexity of the situation. NASCAR will hold its first races at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Speedway, in South and North Carolina respectively, in close proximity to its teams’ bases.

Against

Globally, America has by far the most coronavirus cases – over 1.2 million – and deaths, which now exceed 77,000. It accounts for around one-third of global Covid-19 deaths.

While taking the size of America’s population into account, these figures cast doubt on whether the pandemic has been contained sufficiently for NASCAR to be able to put on races, even under restrictions, and claim it is acting responsibly.

Other countries which are resuming sporting events, such as Germany and South Korea, are among those which have had the most success in containing the pandemic. And they are discovering how difficult that is: One German football team has already isolated its squad and staff after two players tested positive for the virus.

I say

I’m sure there will be no shortage of action-starved motor racing fans planning to keep an eye on NASCAR’s return next week. But I have misgivings over how early they’re planning to start racing again.

There is no doubt NASCAR’s situation differs sharply from than of F1, Formula E or the World Endurance Championship. It’s also true the impact of the Coronavirus varies between states.

However NASCAR’s rival American series have set later target dates to resume racing. IndyCar has put off racing for at least another three weeks. IMSA’s sportscar championship won’t begin until the end of June.

Unlike many motor sport series, NASCAR already had to take the decision to suspend a season which began before the pandemic took hold. While F1 clearly left it too late to call off its season-opening race, I suspect NASCAR is at risk of waving the green flag too soon.



You say

Should NASCAR be holding a race behind closed doors next week? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree NASCAR should resume racing behind closed doors on May 17th?

  • Strongly agree (21%)
  • Slightly agree (10%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (8%)
  • Slightly disagree (21%)
  • Strongly disagree (38%)
  • No opinion (2%)

Total Voters: 125

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 36 comments on “Poll: Should NASCAR restart racing next week?”

    1. Strongly agree. Nascar is crash prone. No audiences less risk of injury when cars get into the stands.

      1. When was the last time a car got in the stands?

        1. I’ve been watching NASCAR for close to 25 years now and I don’t recall any car getting into the stands during that time period. The catch fence they have around these tracks does an excellent job of keeping cars on the track. The last driver I recall going over the outer wall was Jimmy Horton at Talladega in 1994. The accident was in Turn 1 and the track had no catch fence nor spectators there at the time.

          1. for close to 25 years now
            The last … I recall … was … in 1994

            That just made me feel old. There was a time when someone saying “25 years ago” took me back to the 70s or 80s.

            1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
              10th May 2020, 19:37

              I was born in ’89, and “25 years ago” feels like the ’70s to me for whatever reason.

          2. I remember that. I can’t recall exactly the commentators but they didn’t even realize he went out. I’m screaming at the TV. By the time they caught it he was walking back from the Banquet car I believe.

        2. A car doesn’t need to get into the stands for there to be serious issues. The debris fences are great at catching cars but people do still get showered with small debris and sometimes whole engines.

      2. Probability of getting hit by debris from NASCAR Vs Getting COVID-19? Not that hard to have a guess. But I guess plenty of people are happy to risk it, or (more likely in many states) think it’s a hoax

    2. It is not the first sport to have resumed competition. South Korea’s football K League played earlier this week and Germany’s Bundesliga is due to resume on Saturday.

      And of course UFC! had an event yesterday! receiving congratulations from Trump!
      Who are we to criticise NASCAR.

      1. One of the teams in Germany has just quarantined their entire squad for 14 days and one of the UFC fighters and his team has tested positive for Covid…..

      2. One of the fighters on the UFC card, Ronaldo Souza, tested positive on Thursday and was quarantined in his hotel room. So even with the relatively small group of people needed to put on a UFC event, COVID-19 raised it’s ugly head.

    3. Feels early, but if you take every precaution, it should be possible.
      Every team in their bubble and follow everything very strict.

      But yes, it stil feels a risk and a bit early… But they can prove us wrong and hope others can follow their lead.

      1. But they can prove us wrong and hope others can follow their lead.

        How would we know if they are wrong? America is currently having between 25,000 and 30,000 new infections per day, and have for the most part been like that since March. So say 10 people who attended the event discovered they were infected next week, is that normal or abnormal in America at this time? If there were say 1000 infections then we could probably suspect it was a bad idea, but 10?

    4. Ideally we would all remain in our bunkers until this virus died out, but that is not going to happen, especially in the “land of the free”. One only has to look at the news to see hundreds of Americans congregating in protest against their right to become infected and share the virus with all and sundry. Surely the precautions NASCAR are taking are going to make holding a closed-door race safer for the participants than than going to a busy pub, restaurant, or place of worship. I voted slightly agree, maybe I should have voted strongly agree but the situation in the US is very worrying.

      1. EDIT: protesting FOR their right.

    5. Happy they’re back – maybe it will help illustrate the foolishness of going to early.

      I expect they’ll have crowds pretty quickly too, because their fearless leader is expecting the virus to just go away any time now.

      1. @dbradock Either they are going to look like fools for starting early or if nothing happens, they’ll look good.

    6. I’ve seen alot of people bring up the high number of cases in America as a justification that they shouldn’t be going back racing. Keep in mind those numbers are coming primarily from states on the West Coast, the Great Lakes and the Northeast. If NASCAR were in any of those areas, then they would not be racing. However, they are in the South and as of right now the Carolina’s combined have 22,000 record cases.

      They are also not just doing this willingly, they are getting approvals from state governors first and will continue to do so for the rest of the schedules. In order for these additional races to happen, they had drop races at other tracks. Two of those are Sonama Raceway in California and Chicagoland Speedway in Illinois. These two tracks are in harder hit states with tighter restrictions.

      Finally, if anyone wants more insight into NASCAR’s decision, then take listen to the latest of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s, “Dale Jr. Download” podcast. This past week he had NASCAR President Steve Phelps and they discussed this for a good 20-30 minutes.

    7. I think China has lulled the world into a false impression that this can be completely squashed away instead of lingering for a couple of years like every other major pandemic before it. I mean, it’s already back in Wuhan and South Korea. I doubt a vaccine will be ready before a significant part of the world’s population gets it, either, since no vaccine was ever readied from scratch in less than four years. So, it’s just something we’ll have to live and contend with. As long as the race takes place with closed stands, why not.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        11th May 2020, 0:23

        China contained it better than most countries because they are communist pigs which actually worked out pretty good to contain the virus if the numbers coming out of China are true.

    8. I agree with Barack Obama when he said yesterday or the day before that the US’s handling of the pandemic is an “absolute chaotic disaster.” There is a strong percentage of the population in the US that is turning a blind eye to the virus, thanks to their disaster of an occupant of the Oval Office (he’s no leader but is a destroyer) and imho this is going to cause thousands more deaths unnecessarily and will prolong the problem far far longer than needs be. I think the most unsafe thing about NASCAR restarting next weekend, even if as safe as possible, is that there are too many people in the US that will take this as a signal and assume that the country is back open for business. They just aren’t educating themselves, and/or are listening to lies from their “leader” and certain media. If there was a sense that the US was quite on top of things I might have a different opinion and faith in them for holding this race next weekend, but I have zero faith in how they’re handling things, so I think in the not so long run holding this race sends the wrong signal to too many thoughtless Americans.

        1. It’s the moment when you realise you can no longer find the words to defend your hero huh? Poor lad…..

      1. there are too many people in the US that will take this as a signal and assume that the country is back open for business.

        It is at State levels that opening for business is being decided. Each State is deciding as to when it is safe for it to open. I think you are wrong in your opinion of what Americans will think. We know what is going on.

    9. Neil (@neilosjames)
      10th May 2020, 15:40

      On one hand… if managed correctly and sensibly I don’t have any great problem with it. The teams are far smaller than in F1, it’s a non-contact sport, protective equipment can be worn and distancing can be followed nearly all the time. The risk isn’t zero, but the virus most likely isn’t going anywhere until widespread immunity in populations can control it, and even then there’s a good chance it’ll hang around like its cousins, so the risk will probably never be zero again.

      Overall, I think the potential for this to cause significant problems is sufficiently low for it to go ahead.

      But on the other hand, I’m sat here safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter what I think, so I can perhaps afford to be less cautious… and I’m in the UK, with no intimate knowledge of virus spread in North Carolina. So I went in the middle… neither agree not disagree.

    10. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      10th May 2020, 19:45

      The biggest problem is that a return to normality will end up with a complacent population. People will start seeing NASCAR and other sports restarting, and relaxed restrictions, and will immediately ignore the dangers.

      I am in the US, and the state I’m in has begun relaxing certain restrictions. The grocery stores went from 95% of people wearing masks, to about 50% in a little over a week of relaxed restrictions. Despite a 25% occupancy rule for restaurants, there are a number of smaller restaurants that have been slammed full. I personally know of people who have traveled to different states in order to go to a restaurant that’s taking dine-in’s. We also have a growing number of “freedom fighters” and conspiracy folks who are creating a weird dystopia.

      Most likely we’ll see a near-complete relaxing of rules, then come the end of summer into fall, we’ll see another wave of a new cases.

      1. @braketurnaccelerate there certainly seems to be an increasingly politicised edge to the way that the US is handling the case, with the extreme right seeking to use the outbreak as a weapon – not just in terms of the way that they are attacking the authorities, but also as a form of biological terrorism (by encouraging people to become infected and to then deliberately try to infect the police, or to deliberately infect minorities – particularly those who are Jewish or Muslim).

        1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
          11th May 2020, 22:02

          What the you know what are you smoking? You sound like a total nutcase to me Anon.

    11. Race! Wipe stuff down, wear masks, social distance if not wearing masks. If you don’t want to take the risk then don’t go.

    12. Dear NASCAR,
      Too soon mate… too soon.

    13. Luke Longnecker
      11th May 2020, 5:52

      I don’t care about NASCAR but I support this 100% – the quicker we abandon the hubris of thinking COVID-19 can be contained or vaccinated away, the better we will all be.

    14. I strongly disagree with them getting started this soon. In the end they do whatever they want.
      As States starting to open up and the chance of non-symptomatic Covid19 Positive people to mingle more with the general public, I would have waited for another month at least to see what the numbers will do. Once they start, you might not see anyone that works with NASCAR with symptoms or that is non-symptomatic positive, but you give it the chance to spread in the paddock. Once there is a confirmed case, how do you react. By then several more could be infected and spread it around.
      And yes, this could happen if they would have waited another month or two. But to begin at the same time many places are opening back up is the wrong way to do it. I think if they start now and would be forced to stop again in a few weeks would cause more damage than if they had waited.

    15. I think NASCAR stands a good chance of accidentally infecting a section of south-east USA in doing this. COVID-19 is most infectious a day or two before symptoms manifest, so by the time people have come from all over the USA (and a few foreign countries) start the season, there’s a good chance some of them will have interacted closely with some people outside the “bubble” (especially in transport hubs) enough to get the virus into places it had not been previously and may not have been otherwise. The states that started re-opening last month have already experienced a spike in cases; there’s no reason to think NASCAR is immune to the same effect.

      There are some nations where I could see racing being re-opened at this point. The USA (with the possible exception of Alaska) is not currently among those nations.

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