While NASCAR and IndyCar have announced plans to return to action later this month and early next, respectively, efforts to kick-start grassroots racing are moving ahead of that schedule.
In California — which is entering the second stage of a four-stage reopening from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions under guidelines set out by Governor Gavin Newsom — Buttonwillow Raceway will host a VARA vintage event, the British Racing Extravaganza, for VARA members next Friday and Saturday, May 15-16.
“We have been working extremely hard to make sure the event meets and exceeds COVID-19 safety recommendations that have been set forth — we want to make it safer than going to the store,” VARA General Manager Jeanette Bourke posted on the organization’s Facebook page. “We will have a system in place to smoothly and safely have you come in and out. You will be treating your pit as your home, no mask required, BUT on leaving or others coming by say to borrow a wrench all persons will need a mask and always observe the 6ft social distancing rule.
“This event is all about racing — there is no car show or all the other activities that normally happen at the BE, but by doing this we are able to get out on the track, race and do it safely. Your Race Chairs Scott Parsons and Dr. Bill Pierce have worked extremely hard to make the event happen for you the members and please know that we are committed to you not just on the track but in the pits so we can have a fun and safe member event.”
Northwest Indiana’s Daugherty Speedway (pictured above) intends to be back up to speed even sooner. The 3/8-mile dirt track adopted a more defiant tone in announcing on its Facebook page that it planned to stage races this Saturday, with spectators, despite prohibitions against such events under guidelines in place set forth by that state’s governor, Eric Holcomb:
“Attention Fans and Drivers!!!! We are RRRRRRAAACCCING NEXT SATURDAY MAY 9TH!!!! You heard that right! Ready to hear the roar of the engines? We are too! Full race show including Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stock, and Sport Compact,” the track posted on its Facebook page.
“We feel the order of the Governor is 100% unconstitutional and a court just upheld this order as of Friday, May 1. So we are READY to fight for our constitutional rights. Racetracks were specifically excluded from the government assistance which is what is being utilized as unconstitutional grounds.”
“Grandstands will be open but we will limit the number of fans to ensure social distancing requirements are met.”
In subsequent posts, the track announced that its limited seating for the Saturday races were sold out, while underscoring the belief in its right to stage events.
“The actions of racetracks closing have been 100% voluntary and no cease and desist letters have been issued, per our understanding, the track posted. “Our stance is we WILL NOT voluntarily close our business! We feel that our constitutional rights are being infringed and plan to fight! We would like to hear everyone that stands with us!”
The speedway’s confrontational tone echoes that adopted by Norwalk, Ohio’s Summit Motorsports Park last month in announcing its plans to re-open immediately. However, that facility’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing event, which had been scheduled for June 25-28, has since been canceled by the sanctioning body while the track’s Super Summit 2020 event, scheduled for June 6, has been canceled and the seven-day Hot Rod Power Tour, originally set to begin the day after the Super Summit, has been rescheduled to start Aug. 23.