Gregg McKarns has stayed busy in recent weeks helping with various racing endeavors, promoting events throughout the state of Wisconsin while also laying the groundwork for the return of the ARCA Midwest Tour.
He has also been battling to open the gates for a track he owns, Madison International Speedway. Located in Dane County, Wisconsin, the track is currently prohibited from having more than 100 people on the grounds under Phase Two of the county’s reopening plan following the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
McKarns discussed the struggle during an interview on Speed51’s “The Bullring” Monday, outlining his fight to get racing back to Madison.
“The good news is, the zoo is able to open and indoor trampoline parks can open at 50 percent capacity, but 10,000-seat, 50-acre Madison International Speedway remains limited to 100 people,” said McKarns. “I’m hopeful that with other businesses getting opened, some common sense will come into play with government officials, which can be a challenge.”
Despite his disappointment with current regulations, he has organized a way for fans to let local officials know they want to see racing return to the Oregon, Wisconsin half-mile.
“We’re continuing to put the pressure on them. If you go to our website, you can hit the link and it autofills the address line for you, and you can let them know we need to get racing.”
Dane County is the second most-populous county in the state and home of the state capital of Madison. While the county is expected to move to Phase Three of its reopening plan within weeks, it does not offer more promise for McKarns and his track.
“The way Dane County has it set, we’re at 100 people until Phase Three, which could be as early as the Fourth of July. Then, we’re allowed 250 people until there’s a vaccine. Obviously, with those numbers, it puts tracks like Madison and the other track in Dane County, which is Angell Park Speedway [in a bind]. We’re working to get a percentage, which is what we’ve asked for since day one.”
While McKarns hasn’t been able to host racing at Madison, he has stayed involved in racing events around the state. At all of those, he has been willing to do whatever it takes to work with state and local officials to meet whatever requirements they propose in order to contest the event.
“We did a race in Kenosha County, an hour and 45 minutes up the road. They have more cases than we do here. We pulled it off, everything was fine. We went through the necessary steps. It’s not that we aren’t willing to work with people.”
McKarns is also hopeful that the designation of The Milwaukee Mile, located 90 miles east of Madison International Speedway, as a place of outdoor amusement and activity will open a door for discussions.
“The Milwaukee Mile, which is at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, which is a state-owned facility, has been deemed as a place of outdoor amusement and activity, which is what we’ve wanted to be categorized since day one. We are hoping with the state track categorized as such, tracks like Angell Park and MIS will be able to follow suit.
“We’re hopeful we can come to some sort of terms to get our track open. Limiting us to 100 people and not giving us the chance to open, we feel, is not the right route.”
Until then, McKarns will continue doing what he can to assist other racing events in the region, as well as finding alternative uses for Madison.
“We’re going to do a drive-in fireworks show this Friday night. There’s a lot of interest in that. Then, we’ll see where we go from there.”
To listen to the full interview with McKarns, click here to watch an on-demand replay of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo