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NASCAR plans a resumption of racing in Mid-May

NASCAR plans a resumption of racing in Mid-May

As the efforts to contain the current COVID-19 pandemic and to get back to normal business continue, NASCAR is making plans to resume racing for television audiences as soon as the middle of May.

The idea is that the first few races would be held at venues near Charlotte, the location where nearly all the NASCAR race shops are located. Another consideration would be to plan the races for the States which are planning to reopen for business first. The first few races – say the ones in May – would be held without paying spectators and a skeleton complement of race team personnel and other working staff.

For NASCAR, the sanctioning body, and its race tracks and race teams, the television money makes a substantial contribution to the revenue which is shared among those three entities. This helps make no-spectator events more feasible financially. Other series such as IndyCar have less of their funding from television, making the ticket sales a more critical part of the revenue stream. In the case of F1, the race track operators have limited access to the revenue stream and must rely almost entirely on ticket sales and government subsidies. All this makes it more feasible for NASCAR to consider no-spectator events as a viable possibility.

There are a number of possibilities for the special health safety rules that would apply to these closed races. The on-site number of race team personnel might be pared down by eliminating live pit stops, thereby reducing the number of pit crew required to make a pit stop. In the early days of the truck series, for money-saving reasons there were no live pit stops to reduce the number of crew members – presumably they could dust off those pit stop rules which involved a competition caution with sufficient time for a small crew to complete the pit stop procedures. In the Canadian NASCAR Pinty’s Series they have sometimes used this kind of procedure in recent years.

In normal times there many other people who are granted credentials for the garage and pit area – including working crew members, support services like tire suppliers, drivers and their families and friends, team owners and their guests, sponsors and their guests, NASCAR officials, security officers, caterers, media (broadcast and print media), etc. What restrictions, if any, there would be on these ‘back gate’ passes must be under discussion. If all of these credential holders are part of the ‘limited’ attendance, the numbers would be far over the numbers that are being suggested elsewhere as the upper limit allowable for a group gathered together – they might be looking at a few thousand people clustered in the infield..

Proposed dates are being discussed by the interested parties. Here is what the May into June schedule of closed events might look like:

May 17 (Sunday): NCS, Darlington, SC
May 19 (Tuesday): Xfinity, Darlington, SC
May 20 (Wednesday): NCS, Darlington, SC
May 23 (Saturday): ARCA, Charlotte, NC
May 24 (Sunday): NCS, Charlotte, NC (Coca-Cola 600)
May 25 (Monday): Xfinity, Charlotte, NC
May 26 (Tuesday): NGROTS, Charlotte, NC
May 27 (Wednesday): NCS, Charlotte, NC
May 31 (Sunday): NCS, Martinsville, VA
June 3 (Wednesday): NCS, Bristol, TN
June 7 (Sunday): NCS, Atlanta, GA
June 14 (Sunday), NCS, Homestead, FL

No doubt there are many details to be worked out before these race dates become a reality.

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