NASCAR Announces Fans Return to Tracks

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 13: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Hazelnut Toyota, leads during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 13, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR announced Tuesday its plan to reintroduce guests at select NASCAR Cup Series races beginning with the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway June 14 and at Talladega the following weekend.

In a statement official said NASCAR’s modified event procedures, protocols and number of attendees have been finalized with guidance from public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials.

The first fans welcomed back for the first race since March 8th will be at Homestead-Miami Speedway who will invite up to 1,000 South Florida service members as honorary guests for the Dixie Vodka 400, representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command in Doral.

The South Florida area only recently began a phased reopening after it was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ability to host guests for the Dixie Vodka 400 is an important step in the return of live sporting events across the globe,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia.  “The opening of our track 25 years ago was a sign of hope following the devastation in South Miami-Dade County as a result of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.  Today we are privileged and feel a deep sense of responsibility for the same chance during these challenging times.  Having South Florida service members at our race is a true honor and is very symbolic as we begin to have guests back at our NASCAR events.”

“Miami-Dade County is proud to be the site of the return of NASCAR following COVID-19 closures across the nation earlier this year,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Sunday’s race is a fitting tribute to our South Florida service members representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command. By following the public health protocols as we continue moving to a New Normal, NASCAR is ensuring that our military members and their families can enjoy the race in a safe way.”

Talladega Superspeedway will allow up to 5,000 fans in the frontstretch grandstands/towers for the GEICO 500. In addition, there will be limited motorhome/5th-wheel camping spots available outside the track high atop the Alabama Gang Superstretch. Tickets are open exclusively on a first come, first served basis to fans who purchased tickets or reserved camping for the originally scheduled GEICO 500 (April 26) and live within a designated proximity to the track.

“Our frontstretch grandstands and towers are massive, measuring an incredible eight tenths of a mile long,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “That provides us ample room to be able to welcome race fans back with plenty of safe distancing between guests. NASCAR and the track staff will continue to work with health and government officials and be ready to provide a safe experience for the NASCAR fans in attendance.”

“We have a great respect for the responsibility that hosting fans brings, and it’s an honor for Talladega Superspeedway to be one of the first sports facilities to bring fans back to the racetrack,” added Crichton.

The track said all fans in attendance will be screened before entering the facility, required to wear face coverings, and mandated to social distancing of six feet (throughout  the venue). All protocols, including decontamination, thorough staff training, routine cleaning, Grab & Go packaged food items, can also be found here.

“As we continually work to safely reopen our economy, I am excited to see our NASCAR fans have a chance to attend the upcoming race at Talladega Superspeedway,” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said. “The folks at Talladega have been working hard to ensure they are prepared to welcome their fans back with all of the necessary health and safety protocols.”

No guests will not be allowed to enter the infield, as that will remain restricted to essential personnel. There will be no tailgating outside the property – prior, during or post event with the exception of those customers who purchased admissions for the motorhome/5th-wheel RV spots on the Alabama Gang Superstretch.

Racing was postponed on March 13 and the re-started on May 17th at Darlington Raceway with limited crews, officials and media.  NASCAR has held a total of 10 races since then with no fans.  Sunday will mark the first time since March that fans will be allowed to attend races.

All fans in attendance at both races will be screened before entering, required to wear face coverings, mandated to social distance at 6 feet, and will not have access to the infield, among other revised operational protocols. NASCAR said it will continue to adapt and improve its procedures to ensure they are effective and can be scaled to support an increased number of fans in the future.

“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for the responsibility that comes with integrating guests back into our events,” said Daryl Wolfe, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations and Sales Officer, NASCAR. “We believe implementing this methodical process is an important step forward for the sport and the future of live sporting events. The passion and unwavering support of our industry and fans is the reason we race each weekend and we look forward to slowly and responsibly welcoming them back at select events.”

Greg Engle