Summit Motorsports Park owner Bill Bader Jr. says he will reopen his facility despite ongoing shelter-in-place orders.
The Ohio venue, which hosts an NHRA round every summer, had been scheduled to open its season last weekend with the 39th Annual Spring Warmup. That, like countless other events across the world, was put on ice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ohio is currently under shelter-in-place orders until at least May 1.
But in a Facebook Live video this week, Bader said that the shutdown is pushing his business to the brink of collapse, and that he plans to reopen the track soon regardless of whether restrictions are still in place.
“I understand the importance of safety,” he said in the video. “I understand the importance of following a procedure and a protocol. But I will tell you this. If you look at the [infection] numbers,as a result of COVID-19, they are a fraction of projections. If you look at three weeks ago, a month ago, the media, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases], whomever drove this machine led us to believe that this was going to be a catastrophic loss of life, and it’s proving now that that is not going to be the case.”
According to John Hopkins University data, Ohio had 9,100 reported cases as of Friday afternoon, and 418 deaths. More than 36,500 Americans have died as a result of the pandemic.
Bader said that he is not convinced that benefits of precautions being taken to control the spread of the virus justify the economic repercussions.
“What we have now is a situation where social distancing, best practices, we have empowered and enabled all these people, and if they had their way, they would save every human life,” he said. “And the question I would have for them is, at what expense? If in Huron County, if we are able to save every life and limit and ultimately mitigate any outbreaks of COVID-19, but in the process of that we all starve to death, then what did we accomplish?
“Many of us feel we are approaching a state where it is safe to reengage, it is safe to go back outside, and I think the American people want to go back to work. I think that is evident, and you’re seeing all of these peaceful protests, that in the days and weeks to come will become less peaceful.
“And so, the message I have to share is that we are opening. Summit Motorsports Park is not going to wait for permission. We will open this year.”
Bader said that the track has not benefited from any of the government measures aimed at keeping businesses afloat through the pandemic, and that he has cut full-time staff down to three. He expects to announce his 2020 schedule next week.
Ohio is part of a coalition of seven Midwestern states coordinating plans to began relaxing restrictions and reopening the regional economy, however no timeline has been announced.