While racing throughout the rest of the country has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it has been business as usual in the Upper Midwest. With a month until any kind of racing starts in Wisconsin and a month and a half before the ARCA Midwest Tour season opener, Midwest Tour promoter and Madison International Speedway track owner Gregg McKarns has been preparing for the 2020 season as if all systems are a go.
McKarns joined Friday’s special edition of ‘The Bullring’ to talk about the state of short track racing in the Upper Midwest in the wake of the pandemic. With several weeks between now and the end of April/beginning of May, he and other promoters in the area have no other choice than to go ahead with preparation as planned.
“We’re just all ready to go. Myself, talking to the ISS Enduro Series and some other people, we’re obviously all aware of what’s going on,” said McKarns. “We’re all in agreement that we’re going to have everything ready to go and if we can go we’re going to go, and if we can’t, we can’t. We’ll treat it like a rainout and make the best of it. It’s unchartered waters and we’ve got to do what we need to do.”
As of Friday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had ordered a ban on gatherings of 250 people or more, but that has since changed to just 50 people as of Tuesday. While on the show Friday afternoon, he brought into question the vast size of his half-mile Madison International Speedway and whether his management team could get away with having a higher concentration of people on the property
“As of right now the Governor has put out a 250-person recommendation. My argument on that is alright, we’ve got 5,000 square foot areas and 50 acres, what determines that?
“Everyone’s feeling their way through this and I think as things start to mellow out they can realize that we can have more than 250 people at a racetrack that sits on 50 acres versus 250 people at a banquet hall that has 5,000 square feet. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and we’ll understand more about the virus.”
While he remains patient with the virus as of now, his concerns will begin to grow as the Madison International Speedway and ARCA Midwest Tour seasons get set to begin.
“I’ll start getting more agitated as the end of May nears because April 26 is our first event at Madison with the Street Drags, and then May 3 with the $10,000-to-win Joe Shear Classic. We’ve got some time but as things progress we’ll see what people figure out.
“I don’t agree with X amount of people per event because of a loose deal, I think they’re just throwing darts at a dartboard and seeing what sticks.”
As with McKarns, drivers in the Upper Midwest are just as ready to get the 2020 season started. He and other area promoters will take everything day-by-day as we learn more about the coronavirus.
“Our hope is that our race teams and their cars are ready, I’ve had two different guys email me in the last day or so just wanting to know what our practice schedule was heading into the season opener. I think the racers are ready to go, I know our fans are ready to go, it’s just our job to make sure the tracks are ready, and whether that’s late April or early May or late May or early June, we don’t know. There’s so much going on and so many kneejerk reactions, we’ve got to be prepared for anything that gets thrown our way.”
Click here to watch a replay of Friday’s special edition of ‘The Bullring.’
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51