As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, tracks are eager to find out when they will be able to safely host racing events again. South Carolina’s Cherokee Speedway is eager to once again open its pit gates, even if that means not opening the fan gates as well.
During an interview on Speed51’s “The Bullring,” Cherokee Speedway promoter Scott Childress discussed the challenges facing his venue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, his track is on standby and ready to start racing whenever the time is right.
“As far as the race track goes, we’re just on hold. The minute they tell us we can race, we’re in 100 percent. Right now, we can’t even have practices. Hopefully in the next week or so, we’ll be able to get a few practices in and within the next month we can start back racing.”
Childress knows it will likely be a gradual process, starting with practices. Some tracks have considered hosting events without fans when that time comes, and Childress said it is an option he would also be willing to exercise if that allows him to return to racing sooner.
“If that’s the only choice we’ve got, we could pick up sponsors to pay the drivers or give them incentive to come out there. It’s better than nothing. I’d absolutely rather have the fans, because that’s what makes it special. Sometimes, you have to go with the cards that are dealt. If that’s the case, we’ll try to make that work.”
For now, however, it is still a waiting game for the Gaffney, South Carolina facility. The state of South Carolina is under a stay-at-home order, which Childress expects to remain in place for a couple more weeks at the very least.
“Right now, we are at a stay-at-home unless you are an essential business. I think that’s for roughly two more weeks, towards the end of April. From what I’m hearing, as soon as that date’s up, they’re going to ease things back to how they were but I don’t know that. I don’t think anyone really knows at this point.
“Hopefully, at the end of April, it’ll start to loosen up a little bit and we’ll start to have some practices.”
For now, the track is working diligently to make sure they are race-ready when the time comes, including using the down time to exercise some maintenance around the facility.
“My partner, Tony Adair, has really done a good job over the past month getting people together and doing a lot of work at the track. They really have the place looking good, the best it’s looked in a long time. It’s definitely ready to be used, so we’re excited about that.”
Childress believes that, once it is time to go racing, fans will be eager to return to the race track after time away from the sport.
“Once people can go out, everybody’s looking forward to getting to the race track or racing. Racing is a big family. That’s what is so unique about it. Guys may be fighting one night, but they’ll be on the phone together the next night talking about how they’ll get faster.
“I’ve had a tremendous number of people calling, just wondering what is going on or what I think. You can watch it on the internet, all the fans have come together and are trying to help people out. It’s encouraging to see all that. I think it’ll be big when we go racing.”
Fans who missed Tuesday’s interview can watch a replay of “The Bullring” by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo