Florida’s Citrus County Speedway is one of a select number of racetracks who were able to get a few shows in before COVID-19 reared its head and the country went into shutdown. With the state shutdown expiring on May 1 and the Florida government already beginning to ease restrictions, including the opening of certain beaches throughout the Sunshine State, racetracks could soon follow suit.
Citrus County originally had an event scheduled on May 2, but track Promoter Camron Ray announced on “The Bullring” that it will be moved to a different date. The uncertainty regarding what the state decides to do moving forward played a big role in the decision.
“We have May 2 on the schedule, which we’re fixing to pull that date down. We were never told we had to do anything yet, I guess we’re kind of on the backburner of the county in Florida with racetracks being told what we can and can’t do,” Ray said. “Between myself and my dad we decided to cancel the first weekend in May because it’s only two days off of that deadline and what we were originally told of the state of Florida being shut down until the end of April.”
With tracks around the country planning shows with limited or even no fans, including just over 80 miles away at Showtime Speedway, Ray mentioned having no fans present on a race night would not be feasible for the track to survive through the pandemic.
“We need fans to support the Saturday night race night. Without the fans there, it’s a total big loser for us to have a race night. We usually have 700-plus people in the grandstands on a Saturday night, and that helps with breaking even and even making a little bit of money on a Saturday night. Without that, I just don’t see a way for us to get close to breaking even.”
In the meantime, track crews have been hard at work to get the facility ready for when racing does resume. The break in racing has allowed them to take care of some extra maintenance needed that he speedway.
“We’ve been taking this time to take advantage and get some things done around the speedway. We thought during the offseason that we had, we had gotten everything covered and cleaned up and painted. After having the three or four races that we’ve got to have this year, all the walls had to be repainted, the whole place needs to be cleaned again. We’ve been taking advantage of that and we’re looking forward to going back racing.”
Citrus County Speedway is planning on going back racing on Saturday, May 16 with a 50-lap Super Late Model special barring new developments regarding the pandemic and state laws Florida puts into place between now and then. They also plan to open up the track for testing on May 1, the day the state shutdown is scheduled to end.
“We’re going to try to go back racing the third week of May with Late Models. We’re planning full speed ahead to go racing that day, but we don’t really know. We’ve shut the track down completely for track rentals out of respect of the government leaders and what the county has told us to do, so with the track rentals and everything we decided to push that stuff off. We plan on opening the racetrack back up the first day of May for track rentals and hopefully go racing starting that third week of May.”
Click here to watch a replay of Tuesday night’s episode of “The Bullring.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51