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August NASCAR race in Loudon opened up to fans

  • Erik Jones (20) banks into the first turn during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., Sunday, July 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Flags fly in the wind during a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., in September 2016. Concord Monitor file

Concord Monitor
Published: 6/26/2020 12:59:33 PM

LOUDON, N.H. — With approval from the governor, New Hampshire Motor Speedway plans to allow fans to attend the NASCAR Cup Series race on Aug. 2.

The grandstands and suites at the Loudon track will be open to fans with social-distancing requirements and other health protocols in place, speedway officials announced Thursday. The number of fans will be limited; however, the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 is still expected to be “the largest fan event in New England since the onset of the pandemic.”

“Holding New England’s premier NASCAR race this summer here in New Hampshire has always been a priority,” Gov. Sununu said in a statement. “The state worked closely with the folks at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the New Hampshire Division of Public Health to put forward comprehensive, operational guidance. While the stands will not be as full as they usually are, we are proud to be able to hold an in-person viewing experience for NASCAR fans.”

Those who bought tickets for the race that was originally scheduled for July 19 and then postponed can use their credit on file to purchase tickets for the Aug. 2 race, but they will not have priority when it comes to purchasing tickets.

Other safety measures to be implemented include extra cleaning in high-use areas, added hand-sanitizer stations and no cash transactions. Standard coolers will not be allowed to reduce interpersonal contact at safety checkpoints, but fans will be allowed to bring in food and beverages in a soft-sided clear bag.

This will not be the first NASCAR race with fans. There were 1,500 fans at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida for the June 14 Dixie Vodka 400 and nearly 5,000 spectators at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on Sunday for the GEICO 500. All of those fans were required to answer screening questions and wear masks before entering.

It’s not clear if masks will be required for the August race.

“Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR will continue to adapt and improve procedures to ensure they are effective,” NHMS officials said in a statement.

Holding races and any event of this size is still evolving as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The race-day experience will be different — it’s just different times, and fans will have to adjust that. We will have to adjust on how we’re addressing these issues for fans. ... It is so dependent on the local communities, advice from medical experts, working directly with governor’s offices,” Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR’s executive vice president, chief operations and sales officer, said in a June 9 story about the reintroduction of fans at races. “Candidly, frankly, in some states there is more flexibility than in other states. Having said that, we can probably be more aggressive with some of these (attendance) numbers, but we’re choosing not to. We want to start very small, learn and then adapt.”

NASCAR will be getting more aggressive before race cars come to New Hampshire. It announced last week that as many as 30,000 fans can attend the July 15 All-Star race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. There will also be an unspecified number of fans at the July 19 Cup Series race in Texas. However, NASCAR and its affiliated tracks are erring on the side of caution and not allowing fans at the June 28 Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, the July 5 race in Indianapolis or the July 12 race at the Kentucky Speedway.

Speedway Motorsports also owns the track in Tennessee, where there will be 30,000 fans allowed, and in Kentucky, where there will be no fans allowed.

“I want to extend my deepest thanks to Gov. Sununu, our state and local health officials and NASCAR for their unwavering support through this unprecedented time, as they have all played a significant role in making this happen,” David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager at NHMS said. “We’re extremely excited to welcome race fans to ‘The Magic Mile’ to enjoy the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 and to help us celebrate our 30th anniversary season.”


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