NASCAR says it will be taking all necessary precautions to hopefully keep its competitors safe when getting back to the racetrack next month.
In addition to revealing a May race schedule, NASCAR officials also outlined requirements for those allowed at the track. To help with safety, NASCAR is keeping events to one-day shows and limiting the number of personnel who will have access to the venues. Officials have also suggested that those who go to the track don’t then go to the race shop.
In accordance with CDC, OSHA, and state and local government recommendations, other safety measures will include:
- Mandated use of personal protective equipment throughout the event. Anyone going into the infield will wear a cloth mask.
- Health screenings for all individuals prior to entering the facility, while inside the facility and exiting the facility.
- Social distancing protocols throughout the event.
Cup Series teams will be allowed 16 people on its roster. NASCAR has not yet revealed what the roster numbers are for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series or Xfinity Series, but they will also have to abide by all guidelines.
John Bobo, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, offered additional safety details when speaking to the media Thursday afternoon.
“We’re asking teams and all of our other participants, organizations, to self-monitor people for five days for symptoms before they arrive,” said Bobo.
“We’re asking them to fill out a questionnaire and go through initial screening for temperature. Concerns after that, they will go into the secondary screening with medical personnel, which will include heart rate, pulse oxygenation, and medical personnel will make decisions at that point.
“We’ll also go through an additional screening for essential personnel. We’ve been working with the teams on a roster system to make sure the event is limited as to who can attend. If there are any operations we can move off-site, that’s what we’re trying to do to limit the event.”
With no fans in attendance, NASCAR can use the entire infield space to socially distance. Cars will be spread out in the garage, and the driver motorhomes will also be spread out and used as a place for drivers to self-isolate during the day. Anyone who does not comply with the rules of social distancing or in wearing masks will be removed from the premises. Spotters will also be spread out. Some may not even be on the roof, but across the top of the grandstands.
On testing people:
“Temperatures will be taken randomly throughout the event of people as needed,” said Bobo. “Symptomatic patients will be processed and removed from the event and given medical attention if needed. We’ll be doing that outside the infield care center to protect the integrity of the infield care center for emergency operations during the race.
“Post-race, we’re going to stagger people’s exits. We’ll be looking at temperature and other factors as they leave. We’re also requiring all the teams to disinfect as needed, and we’ll even seal haulers and things like that to make sure as they go to the next event, they’re safe. We set up lines of communication for every participant to reach out to us on lessons learned after the event so we can get better and smarter on each successive race as we go forward.”
Bobo said the COVID-19 tests that take a few days for the results to return should remain for those who most need them, and that NASCAR is continuing to follow medical developments in antibody testing and broader understanding of of the virus.
“We’re interested in antigen testing, see that as something we can implement in our program at some point,” said Bobo. “Again, we’re waiting on further development and FDA approval. Contact tracing, we are asking teams and participants to keep a log of who they’ve interacted with throughout the course of a day, so if we have a positive post-race, we can figure out who they were in direct exposure with and ask those people to isolate for 14 days.
“We do plan to move to contact tracing software when that is further developed in a more reliable platform that can work state to state as we use it.”
If someone tests positive:
“We hope we don’t have to do this, but we will allow a replacement person for a team member or driver,” said Steve O’Donnell. “The parameters will be set up in place with the screening prior to the race, especially Darlington. A worst-case scenario, a three-hour window if we had to replace someone, we’d have that time. As you get beyond that, you look at the what-ifs. We’re going to learn as we go. If you had multiple teams, that’s certainly a different story than if we were just isolating one person.”