NASCAR’s season has already been more than interesting after having to deal with obvious COVID-19 circumstances. Their season continues next week for its annual All-Star Race, an event that will surely have them in national headlines.
The Bristol Motor Speedway will host NASCAR’s All-Star Race on Wednesday. This is usually one of their most exciting events of the season, but this year, there is added pressure surrounding coronavirus concerns. The speedway is expected to have between 20,000 and 30,000 fans in attendance. With these numbers, Bristol Motor Speedway will be hosting the biggest sports event in the country since the pandemic called for a pause on all sports in March.
This year’s race will likely attract more attention than usual for two major reasons. One being that it is not taking place at its traditional location, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and, of course, the second being how the speedway will manage so many individuals in their facility with coronavirus cases continuing to spike around the country. In the state, COVID-19 cases have continued to rise as well.
Governor Bill Lee had extended Tennessee’s state of emergency declaration to June 29, encouraging state residents to limit activities and wear masks. They are also limited to social gatherings of 50 or more people, with few exceptions.
NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway will be under a watchful eye as they journey into unknown territory. These are circumstances untouched by any other U.S. professional sport since a “new normal” was established.
Bristol Motor Speedway Understands the Responsibility
Jerry Caldwell, Bristol Motor Speedway general manager, said he understands the level of responsibility that comes with hosting an event of this magnitude. He claims that considering they are the first to host a major sporting event, they hope it will be a positive experience and one that other professional sports can learn from. Caldwell wants this to be an event that shows the U.S. how it is possible for us to return to doing some of the things we enjoy, while staying safe.
Helping the Local Economy
NASCAR’s All-Star Race is sure to bring in plenty of revenue for the group and their key stakeholders. It will also guarantee a spike in sales for local businesses, transportation, hotels, and many other businesses that suffered after the COVID-19 quarantine.
The eastern Tennessee/western Virginia area will surely be a hotspot for any fans attending the race. Although local fans will surely make up a large amount of those attending, NASCAR fans are known to come from around the country to attend the annual event.
An obvious con to traveling is the added danger of contracting coronavirus and the suggested quarantine measures after traveling. Visitors could potentially accelerate the spread of COVID-19 in the Bristol area.
The speedway has already acknowledged their plans to create a comprehensive list of safety protocols. Social distancing guidelines are being accommodated with small social-distancing groups in the plan. Their approach to a large-scale sporting event could provide a layout for other professional sports.
Employees will be required to wear masks at all times. Fans are also required to wear masks except when in their seats.
One of the biggest changes is in regards to cash. Everything will be digitized as much as possible to avoid contact. Food and souvenir purchases cannot be made with cash, and tickets are also being sold digitally.
The Bristol Motor Speedway has a capacity of 160,000 but will only be hosting 20,000 to 30,000 people to allow scattering in the grandstands. It will be interesting to see how their safety measures will play out in real time, and how they will be received by the public amid growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.