While most sporting events are postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR has announced that they will return May 17 at Darlington Raceway kicking off a packed two-week schedule.
According to ESPN, The 400-mile Cup Series event on May 17 will be the first of seven events in 11 days involving all three NASCAR national series. Three of those races — two Cup Series races and an Xfinity Series event — will be held at Darlington, NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway.
NASCAR hopes to complete a full slate of 36 Cup Series races with a 10-race postseason. No dates have been announced past May 27th and none of the May events will include race fans.
NASCAR joins the UFC, which returns May 9, as the first major sports organizations to announce specific return-to-play plans since the coronavirus pandemic shut down U.S. sports in mid-March.
Procedures that will be in place include:
- Only licensed NASCAR team members will be allowed into the racetrack. They will be required to wear cloth face masks. Anyone who does not will be removed from the facility.
- Teams’ work areas in the garage will be spread out to comply with social distancing guidelines.
- Spotters, normally working shoulder-to-shoulder atop the press box/tower, will be spread out to comply with social distancing guidelines.
- Competitor motor homes will be allowed in the racetrack infield, but instead of occupying one enclosed area, they will be spread out throughout the infield.
- Teams will be limited to 16 total members, including the driver.
- All events will include live pit stops.
- Over-the-wall pit crew members will use face screens or neck socks in addition to their normal gear of firesuits, helmets and gloves.
- NASCAR has asked race teams to closely monitor the health of their employees before, during and following each event.
- There will be random temperature checks of everyone working in the garage area. Anyone determined to be symptomatic will be checked via an outside care center. If they are determined to be a potential virus threat, they will be required to leave and be replaced with another crew member. This includes drivers.
- NASCAR is asking everyone inside a race facility to keep a contact tracing log, manually at first and then by implementing digital inputs. If a worker shows symptoms, that person and those he was in contact with will need to self-isolate.
- Media coverage outside of the TV and radio broadcast partners is still being determined.