South Boston Speedway was only a few days away from its annual open practice and media day at the track when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down in the sports world.
To date, the speedway has had to cancel its first three events of the season, and if Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay at home orders remain in effect until his June 10 deadline, the track will have had to cancel the first six events of the year.
While the NASCAR Cup series is gearing back up to race on May 17, the small town tracks of the country are in much different situations than the cup series.
NASCAR is going to have races with no fans in attendance and limited personnel for each team as well. Having no fans for South Boston Speedway is not much of an option at this point.
“I don’t see us having races at South Boston Speedway without fans,” general manager Cathy Rice said. “Our fans are important to us, and the interaction between our fans and the drivers and teams is one of the things that makes short track racing special,” she added.
The revenue NASCAR will be making with the restart in a couple of weeks is a luxury that small town tracks do not have.
“From a financial standpoint we need to have the fans in the stands and active participation from our local and regional sponsors,” Rice said. “Short tracks like South Boston Speedway do not receive the large revenue from national television or the level of revenue from national sponsors that the tracks hosting NASCAR’s national touring series receive,” she added.
Rice also said that she feels that they will need to have fans in the stands and active participation from their sponsors when they are able to start their season.
As for the scheduling of the races missed, it will be tough to try and fit all of the scheduled races into a shorter schedule. Rice said they are going to have to be creative in looking at if or how they can make up for those lost dates.
Right now there is no concrete plan on how to reschedule the races because of the fluidity of the current situation. There are several options they are looking at, but until they know when they will be able to start the races nothing is set in stone.
Rice expanded on what those options are by saying that they are looking at having a shortened season with more twin-race events than they would normally have. Another option is to take the season deeper into the fall months than they have.
“We will thoroughly examine all possible options, and we should be able to move forward quickly once we know when we can begin our season,” Rice said.
The staff at South Boston Speedway has been in close communication with NASCAR officials as well as local and state officials to stay up to date with various situations, according to Rice.