Professional sports have been at a standstill since early March due to the coronavirus. Sports fans have nothing new to sink their teeth into and are counting the days until they can see their favourite athletes back in action.
While authorities and stakeholders work overtime trying to figure out how to resume the hockey and basketball seasons and start the baseball and football ones, the soonest to kick back into gear is likely car racing - more specifically, the American NASCAR series.
It’s been confirmed that NASCAR-sanctioned action will resume on May 17 with the presentation of the Southern 500, event held every year on the legendary Darlington circuit in South Carolina. The three main NASCAR series have been on hold since the beginning of March due to the pandemic. In the case of the main Monster Energy series, only 4 of the 36 races on the calendar were held at the beginning of the year.
Thus, the time has come to play catch up. As of May 17, fans will get to watch 7 events in 10 days. The races are spread across the three main divisions, with four races running in the main series, along with two in the Xfinity (the antechamber) series and one in the Gander pickup truck series.
This constitutes a serious marathon of oval racing. The organizers intend to make up for lost time in the hope the full 2020 race calendar can be completed, even if compressed and modified.
“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition. NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials, medical experts, and all industry players for their unprecedented support for our return to competition, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans to watch the cars return to the track.”
- Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive.
While the races themselves re coming back, there won’t fans in the stands initially. NASCAR has established procedures to ensure safety using CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment. Only essential personnel will be allowed to physically attend events and cloth face masks will be required.
Here is the schedule of the seven races that will be run in 10 days across the three divisions.