Amid the mass wave of cancellations of large public events nationwide in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener originally scheduled for March 21 at South Boston Speedway in Virginia. was added to that ever-growing list late this week. For the time being, the event has been postponed to a date to be determined.
The postponement has caused much disappointment, but also understanding from those in the Modified community, including its drivers. Late Friday, 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore appeared on a special edition of ‘The Bullring’ on Speed51.com to share his thoughts on the impact this national emergency has had on the sport.
“I don’t race for a living, it’s a hobby on the side. We’ve been monitoring the situation and I think the other night when the NBA started the tipping point of all of this, Ryan Preece, Doug Coby, and I started talking more about having that feeling to where we are at right now with our series,” said Bonsignore.
“It’s upsetting, it’s disappointing as a racer, but from the grand scheme of things you have to air on the side of caution. Our government and local governments are making the right decision right now to let things play out, and get back to where people are healthy and safe. Then we can pick up with racing, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
A lifelong Long Island native, Bonsignore talked about what the reaction has been locally.
“I walked into a store today just to get some office supplies for my normal 9 to 5 job and the shelves were just absolutely empty. People are panicking, it’s part of it whether it snows, there’s a hurricane, it’s a part of how our society reacts. It hasn’t been that close to home yet here on Long Island as far as anybody I know or anything like that. But, there’s been a few known cases on Long Island and the ones in the City, but I’m trying not to read too much into it, it will just cause more panic. So, just stay informed and keep yourself safe.”
Despite the postponement, Bonsignore and crew chief Ryan Stone are going about their final list of preparation this weekend, so when they get the go ahead, they’ll be ready to go.
“As far as the Tour, everything’s just been postponed as far as South Boston, that’s a big difference. Hopefully we get a date as soon as everybody feels it’s best, but that’s up to South Boston and NASCAR. We were ready to go, the cars just got finished getting wrapped on Wednesday. Our shop is based in Connecticut where Ryan Stone lives, we’re actually going this weekend to button up a few things on the trailer, just odds and ends so we’d be ready to leave next week. Now we got a few more weeks to keep tinkering with things, but we’re 100 percent ready to go.”
Just when that time will be might be a bigger question, with an executive order banning large crowds of 250 people at any given event in the State of Connecticut in effect until April 30, there are some lingering questions towards the status of the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway on April 4-5 and the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 25-26.
So far, Bonsignore has not heard anything official, but it’s caused a wave of uncertainty which he feels people will have to accept as temporary norm in the short term.
“It’s a big monkey wrench, we don’t know when or at what track we’re going to start at. We haven’t heard much from NASCAR, I’m sure they’re working behind the scenes before they talk to any of us, which is always what they do. It’s a lot of uncertainty right now, I talked to my car owner today, and we’re just wondering what we do, but you just can’t worry about it. At the end of the day, it’s a hobby at our level, I know it affects a lot of people’s way of life where it’s their income, but we’re doing the right thing to get ahead of this, and not have the same issues other countries are having.”
You can listen to the entire interview with Justin Bonsignore from ‘The Bullring’ by clicking here.
Stay with Speed51 with ongoing developments on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as well as all of short track racing.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51