On its website and social media platforms, Showtime Speedway is promoting a “COVID-119” racing event scheduled for April 25, featuring Super Late Models as well as “one-on-one” match races. However, local officials say that race will not be allowed to take place.
Showtime Speedway began promoting the event on Monday, April 13, promising an event featuring a 125-lap Super Late Model feature. Fans would not be allowed on the premises, but would be able to watch the event via a pay-per-view broadcast.
In a lengthy Facebook live video on Tuesday, Showtime Speedway owner Robert Yoho said the track would not be racing on April 25 due to “the powers that may be.”
“I’ve been advised not to do that,” Yoho said at the time. “By the powers that may be after I went through all the channels and had everything situated and set up, we had some whiny b——, crybabies that have made enough noise in 24 hours to say I can’t do that.
“We’re still going to run the COVID 119. We are going to run it a later date, probably May 2.”
However, Yoho followed that up with a video on Wednesday, saying the “fat lady hasn’t sung yet” and the April 25 date was back on the schedule.
“It ain’t over. Our race is going to be scheduled, still tentatively for April 25. We’ll have a backup date of May 2. It’s not over, it’s not 100 percent guaranteed.
“When we get within a week away, we’ll take care of it. It’ll be a non-public race on pay-per-view.”
In an interview with Speed51, Yoho said he believed the phone calls from the “powers that be” were actually hoaxes.
“The phone call from the caller ID said it was a sergeant from the Pinellas County Board of Directors, which I hear was possibly a scam. We’re making calls trying to find out about it.
“The only thing that would stop us is a lockdown. They’ve asked us to get it done by 8:30, 9:00, so it would be an early pay-per-view.
“I think they spiked the phones. You can make it say anything. When I get the call from the Sheriffs, it’s from a different number. We’re confident, if they open the boat ramps and the beaches, I’ll be good, and they’re talking about opening that on Thursday.”
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office informed Speed51 that they did not call the track. Instead, a Captain with the Sheriffs’ Office made a physical visit to the Showtime Speedway property to inform the track it would not be allowed to contest the race on April 25.
“They were spoken to about that race [Tuesday], and they were told it will not happen,” said the Public Information Office when asked about the event. “They were told to shut that race down.
“The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office spoke with them. One of our captains went out and spoke with them.”
Yoho noted in one of his videos promoting the event that he should be allowed to contest his event under the same provisions that allowed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to contest its WrestleMania event on April 4-5 with no audience in Orlando, Florida, where they continue to tape live TV events at their Performance Center.
A memorandum from the Florida Division of Emergency Management issued on April 9 defines a list of activities which have been added to the state’s list of essential services, with one item described as “Employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience – including any athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team and any others necessary to facilitate including services supporting such production – only if the location is closed to the general public.”
However, Pinellas County issued its own stay-at-home requirements, clarifying in further detail what is and is not and essential business than in Florida’s Stay at Home order. Under that, “Places of public and private assembly are required to close, whether indoors or outdoors.”
At this time, there is no order that would prevent the event from taking place on the planned makeup date of May 2. The statewide executive stay-at-home order is currently scheduled to expire on April 30.
The Pinellas County declaration “will expire upon the expiration of the existing State of Local Emergency, as same may be extended by subsequent order or declaration, or the expiration of Executive Order 20-91, whichever occurs earlier.”
Florida political subdivisions such as Pinellas County are provided authority to exercise emergency powers and extend declarations in 7-day increments. Pinellas County has opted to extend its local state of emergency four times during the pandemic, most recently on April 9.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo