NASCAR will run the next two races without fan attendance

In a morning filled with cancellations around the entire world of sports, NASCAR announced Thursday afternoon that the races for this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, will be run without fans to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The statement read:

“At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race. We will work with public health officials as we determine future scheduling beyond these events.”

The news came after IMSA announced the postponement of the 12 Hours of Sebring followed soon after that the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix had also been postponed.  The NHRA announced that the Gatornationals scheduled for this weekend were postponed until a later date.

NASCAR haulers were sitting in the parking lots surrounding Atlanta Motor Speedway when the news was announced.  The last time a NASCAR was postponed for something other than weather was in 2001 when the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was postponed until the end of the season due to the attacks on 9-11.

NASCAR’s reaction came hours after the Mayor on Miami -Dade County issued a statement canceling large gatherings in the county:

“Although we do not have community spread at this time, we want to take the preemptive steps to keep it that way. Therefore, I have decided to suspend the operation of the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, the Miami Open tennis tournament, the MIA 5K run, and all major events at the American Airlines Arena. The March 22 NASCAR race at the Homestead Miami Speedway is postponed at this time. NASCAR officials will decide whether or not to hold the race without fans.

“As we move forward together during this time, we will continue to monitor what the World Health Organization has determined is a global pandemic. We will constantly evaluate planned mass gatherings as the situation evolves.

“I will be making future policy decisions regarding indoor events planned for more than 250 people based on federal and state health officials’ guidance.

“In addition, I am recommending that smaller gatherings, if they’re not essential, also be reconsidered.”

Professional sports leagues across the country and around the world have been canceling or postponing games and entire seasons as governments try and contain the spread of the virus. In America, the NBA dramatically postponed its season just before the start of a game after a player tested positive for the virus Wednesday night. They were followed Thursday by the NHL, MLS and the MLB.

All three of NASCAR’s national touring series are scheduled to be racing on both weekends.

Greg Engle