Many professional sporting events have announced postponements, suspensions and cancellations due to the effects of the coronavirus, also referred to as COVID-19. This has also impacted major auto racing events, with postponements in Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA, NHRA and many others
The impacts of the pandemic are also reaching into the short track racing world with a handful of events already being impacted.
With one of the nation’s most prestigious Super Late Model races planned for next weekend, March 20-22, questions are already being asked about the status of the 44th Annual Rattler 250. On Thursday afternoon, South Alabama Speedway released a statement on Twitter indicating that the race will continue as planned.
“Track officials will monitor the situation and update if new information needs to be distributed,” the statement read. “We look forward to next weekend's event, and seeing all the great fans and drivers.”
While the Rattler 250 is still on schedule, one competitor has withdrawn from the event. Washington's Garrett Evans announced on Facebook he would withdraw from the race, citing the many unknown variables at play along with the expense of traveling cross-country for the event.
An event that has already been impacted by the pandemic is the ARCA Menards Series East event at Five Flags Speedway scheduled for this weekend. In light of the coronavirus epidemic, Saturday’s race has been postponed. A make-up event for that race has not been announced at this time
The Saturday portion of the Skyler Trull Memorial at Carolina Speedway has been postponed, headlined by the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series. A make-up date has not been determined at this time.
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) announced that its event this weekend will be postponed until July 25. The venue also said it is working closely with local health organizations as its March 28 race date approaches.
Meanwhile, the Indoor Auto Racing Championship announced that this weekend’s Syracuse Indoor Races at the New York State Fairgrounds were canceled after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced restrictions on public gatherings in the state.
Elsewhere in New York, Orange Motorsports and Entertainment and the Orange County Fair Speedway announced the cancellation of the Indoor Motorsports Show on March 21-22 amid coronavirus concerns.
“Effective immediately, and for at least the next 14 days, Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman is recommending and encouraging the cancelation or postponement of any large social indoor gatherings or events in Orange County,” reads the announcement on the track’s website. “In the interest of public safety, OME has decided to comply with the county’s recommendation and cancel the OCFS 2020 Motorsports Show.”
After exploring several options, including contesting a non-spectator event, Madera Speedway officials announced on Friday they would postpone their March 14 season opener. California Governor Gavin Newsom has banned large gatherings in the state.
On Wednesday, Evergreen Speedway canceled its NASCAR Weekly Racing Series season opener scheduled for March 28. This came as a result of Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s band on large gatherings with over 250 people through the month of March in three counties (King, Pierce and Snohomish).
On Friday, the World of Outlaws announced it had suspended its Sprint Car season until April 9, impacting two events this weekend in Texas. Updates regarding the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, scheduled to race next on March 27, will come at a later date.
However, Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California announced it has canceled its first three races of the 2020 season after conferring with local health officials. This includes a doubleheader weekend with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars on April 3-4.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Cars are competing this Friday and Saturday at Cotton Bowl Speedway (TX) and LoneStar Speedway (TX). The next World of Outlaws Late Models event is scheduled for March 28 at Cherokee Speedway (SC).
Several major events are planned for March 21 currently. The Spears SRL Southwest Tour is slated to contest its Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway that day. According to a statement on the series' website, they are monitoring the situation closely but operating as normal.
"SPEARS Southwest Tour Series officials, together with our partner tracks are paying close attention to the ongoing COVID-19 health concerns," reads the statement. "All SPEARS Southwest Tour Series events are going forward as scheduled. As always, we will act in the best interest of our fans and competitors. In the event of any change, we will communicate via Facebook, email and our website www.SRLSouthwestTour.com."
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour also announced a postponement of its 2020 season opener, scheduled for March 21 at South Boston Speedway.
This raises questions on where and when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will compete next, with the next two events scheduled to take place at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and Stafford Speedway.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park released a statement on Thursday announcing that it would honor and abide by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont's executive order banning gatherings of more than 250 people, acknowledging it "will obviously impact some of our 2020 schedule and we will have more information about the affected events as soon as it is available."
Thompson will still hold its Test & Tune on March 21, with an adjusted format to adhere to Governor Lamont's executive order.
Another Connecticut venue, Stafford Speedway, acknowledged Governor Lamont's executive order on Twitter and said they will share any updates when available. The Spring Sizzler to kick off Stafford's season is scheduled for April 24-26.
Dominion Raceway posted on Facebook Thursday that they are increasing and expanding housekeeping and sanitation efforts at their venue.
The CARS Tour is also scheduled to race on March 21 at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC). According to a series statement submitted in response to Speed51, they are closely evaluating the situation but have made no alterations at present.
“The CARS Tour is monitoring the situation, but at this time our events are going to carry on as scheduled.”
On Saturday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order banning gatherings of more than 100 people. This will likely lead to some degree of alteration for the CARS Tour event, as well as races such as the ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series at County Line Raceway and the 4-Cylinder Nationals at Carteret County Speedway.
Due to this, Hickory Motor Speedway canceled its racing program for Saturday, March 14. The Speedway intended to proceed with the event before the executive order.
While it is not related to the coronavirus, Irwindale Speedway has postponed its season opening weekend due to forecasted inclement weather.
The Clash at the Coliseum karting series at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Coliseum has been canceled for March 27-28, concluding its season. The season finale weekend was originally scheduled for February.
The United States Modified Touring Series released a statement saying it is closely monitoring the situation ahead of its next event, but currently has no plans to alter the 2020 schedule.
While some of this weekend’s events have been impacted by the coronavirus, there are still events moving forward as planned. The ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series plans to open the season Friday night at North Georgia Speedway, while Cochran Motor Speedway (GA) is still scheduled to host a doubleheader weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Other local racing is scheduled at tracks such as 4-17 Southern Speedway (FL) and Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
Speed51 will have continued updates as they become available regarding any potential schedule changes as a result of the coronavirus.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo