May 17th marked a massive day for NASCAR, and really the entire sports world. On that day, NASCAR returned to Darlington Raceway with strict health procedures including social distancing, masks, a thorough cleansing of the garage and track area, and even dropped hundreds of people that normally are at the track that will now have to stay back at the shops. Those people in particular are engineers, HR personnel, social media managers, and even some sponsorship owners.
Flash forward to now July 2nd, everyone is wondering when fans will return to the track. Well, NASCAR has started inviting fans back (barring their state permitting so). These tracks include:
Homestead-Miami Speedway – On June 14th, 1,000 military service members were invited and marked the first sporting event held with fans in attendance since the coronavirus pandemic forced an industrywide shutdown in mid-March.
Talladega Superspeedway– 5,000 fans attended the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on June 21. Tickets were available on a first-come, first-serve basis for fans who purchased seats for the originally scheduled event, which was due to run on April 26.
Not only did this mark a major win for NASCAR, it was also one for the other major sports in America. This is mainly becuase all eyes were on NASCAR to get this right, and they were doing so the first time. With NASCAR working with the CDC and the board of health, they were able to create a safe environment for the drivers and for the fans that will be ecstatic to return!
NASCAR is the clear cut role model for other major sports to follow. For those people who aren’t fans of NASCAR, just know that NASCAR is saving other sports that to have fans in attendance. By NASCAR risking their brand by having fans back, they are also providing a “field test” to see if they can safely accommodate fans at their tracks (or for football and basketball’s sake, a stadium).
NASCAR is paving the way for major sports to follow, as we all want to return to these events. NASCAR is providing the path for us to return in the near future.
Photo credit: Edwin Locke/UPI