PFANNER: The day the Earth stood still

Image by LAT

PFANNER: The day the Earth stood still

Insights & Analysis

PFANNER: The day the Earth stood still


I write this in the early hours of the morning after one of the most remarkable 36 hours I have yet experienced in my 23,964 days of life. As dawn broke across the United States of America on Friday, March 13, 2020, we awakened to the reality that our way of life was changed by the microscopic menace known as COVID-19 that is a mortal threat to many of us for the foreseeable future.

With races being cancelled or postponed and entire league seasons suspended, the motorsports economy is now stalled during what should be the most vibrant time of year for our sport. As a result, the business of racing is now in critical condition along with the travel and hospitality industry. From race teams to racetracks to racing series to suppliers to racing media companies, all have seen their incomes severely impacted overnight but that is not their primary concern as they focus on the well being of their families, employees and customers.

What most of us hopefully now realize is that our existence is intertwined and fragile on this tiny blue wet rock spinning in the vast emptiness of the universe. For those of us who have lived lives devoted to racing, we are also now confronted with the hard cold truth that our sport is a luxury that is not essential to the functioning of society.

Race crews as well as those who follow the sport and draw their livelihoods from it are abruptly facing new demands and priorities. Image by Mark Sutton/Sutton Images/LAT

Someone once said, “Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.” Now, most of us must wait indefinitely while some of us race in front of empty grandstands as the rest of the world struggles to cope with a rapidly spreading pandemic.

We don’t yet know how the optics of this surreal dystopian racing weekend will translate in the context of the new normal. However we do know those of you who are reading the words posted on this website or in RACER magazine care deeply about the sport and the people who participate in it. You care so much that more than 120,000 of you visited our site yesterday — which ironically now stands as our all-time single day benchmark for unique users on what may be the most perilous day yet for our sport during RACER’s 28 years of existence.

Our small but mighty RACER team worked relentlessly during those turbulent 36 hours that rocked our world to bring you the truth about what was unfolding because you are our reason for being and we know that you share our passion for the sport. We are also grateful for the good people who lead and manage the racing series we cover. Their honesty and cooperation as yesterday’s unprecedented events unfolded gives us hope.

Victory travels at the speed of thought, so remember that we are all in this together. Now more than ever, racing’s future depends on our collective optimism and resolve. We must recommit our time, our reputations and our resources if we wish to see racing succeed and prosper in this new decade that is certain to define the relevance of our century-old sport in a fast-changing world. From the beginning, racing has been about bravely embracing the challenges ahead and learning faster and better than the competition. This is our moment to shine so let’s win this race.