Fans are eager to get back to the race track; Race track owners are eager to re-open; They’re going to be blindsided when the government doesn’t allow it until 2021
I’m speaking to you from Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Down below sits Church Street, a road that’s usually bumper-to-bumper with uppity bankers in their totally unnecessary fancy suits, giving the appearance of something fictitious.
I’m the t-shirt wearing hippy redneck in the tower above that street. Where, instead of the typical traffic jam, I just witnessed a fox running down the middle of the now abandoned city street.
To be more blunt and closer to accurate given the current times, I’ll paint myself as a dirty hippy. All-the-way off my rocker and haven’t showered in 3 days. But, why bother? I haven’t seen anyone since March 5th.
My entire life and yours is uprooted. I miss the race track and the people all throughout the industry. I’m not having a good time. I’m sure you aren’t either. But, at least your check arrived.
Meanwhile, Governors across the land are currently forming plans to reopen their respective states. Some more stubbornly than others. The more realistic view…
California: “The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers, all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”
Illinois: “I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said. “From my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people again until we have a vaccine, which is months and months away. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere. I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact.”
Race tracks ready, waiting and eager to open!
Simultaneously, racing fans across the United States are itching to get to the race track. As soon as the current stay-at-home orders are lifted, their off to the races (or so they think).
The curve has in-fact been flattened. Yet, as of Wednesday, the United States leads the world in the total of COVID-19 cases at 617,628. They also lead the world in reported deaths at 29,897.
Race track owners are eager to re-open the gates. They’ve been pumping up the fans on social media about stay-at-home orders being lifted and getting back to racing (it’s not going to happen).
In many cases, these tracks wouldn’t have shut down at all without a forced order from the government. As soon as those orders are lifted, so will the gates. (Again, or so they think)…
Pump all the brake pedals, Italy went on lockdown around February 21, 2020, more than a month ahead of most areas the United States. Italy is still on lockdown with no plans of opening up. You think your lockdown is over soon? Maybe in a remote area. The United States will be extending their lockdowns as well, in most areas. But, even dinner gatherings of 20+ are still highly discouraged. This is beyond that…
Just because the federal government is forming a task force specifically around a re-opening plan doesn’t mean any plans are in place. It’s to discuss plans and future options. When it’s opened in certain states or areas, it’s still going to be a horribly bad idea to open any race tracks…
This is going to be really painful…
Warnings of large gatherings, through 2021
The White House continues to warn of large gatherings. Recently, officials have stated that large gatherings would not be safe until fall 2021.
FALL 2021! What do you not understand about that? Are you paying attention at all? You aren’t going to the race track this year, at all. Sorry, I’m frustrated with all the flat ignorance and blind eyes.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel told the New York Times, “restarting the economy has to be done in stages… Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — … I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.”
“In Hong Kong, Singapore and other places, we’re seeing resurgences (in COVID-19 cases) when they open up and allow more activity. It’s going to be this roller coaster, up and down.”
Emanuel added. “The question is: When it goes up, can we do better testing and contact tracing so that we can focus on particular people and isolate them and not have to reimpose shelter-in-place for everyone as we did before?”
Just because this first curve has been flattened doesn’t mean it’s over. That’s not how outbreaks work. We’re still long away from this being over. And, it’s going to come back in force as the seasons change, until we have a vaccine. That’s a long way away.
Dr. Tom Tsai
Harvard Global Health Institute’s Dr. Tom Tsai told Yahoo, “There are going to be multiple recurrences that occur throughout the summer.”
He added, “We still have to keep our eye on the ball and be vigilant as those cases resurface because the data from the other countries have shown that once we lift these quarantine measures, then the chances of community transmission increase.”
How about sports and the coronavirus?
Back on topic… Where does this leave the sporting world? Fucked. Totally, fucked.
But, it’s way more than sports…
Concert planners are expecting to be shut down completely until 2021. That’s crippling to the music industry, who has rebounded from a lack in album sales to find new revenue in worldwide touring.
It’s going to be the same in the sporting world. The economy may open in the coming weeks or more realistically, months. You’ll be able to go to parks which are currently closed and maybe select restaurants with new, added space between tables. Sports will not and should not resume to normal, any time soon.
That’s painful for me to say. I love sports. My whole life and livelihood has been built solely around fast race cars. I just doubled-down and bought an RV over the winter with my original plans of attending 65+ races. Now, it’s going to sit in the garage and collect dust for the most part.
Yet, some light at the end of the tunnel is that sports with a TV audience bring entirely different rules to working through a pandemic.
If events can generate enough revenue from TV to justify dropping the green flag, without fans in the stands, then those sporting events will resume.
In fact, NASCAR will be one of the first sports to return to action. That’s due to the lack of human contact between players. Yet, they’ll drop the green, without fans in the stands.
Dirt tracks: Coronavirus
Dirt tracks? They’re totally fucked. And they’re going to be absolutely shocked to hear it.
The shock to this, isn’t totally their fault. When the President welcomes leaders in sports for a White House briefing, the dirt racing world isn’t invited. So, they’re speaking from a misinformed place.
Most dirt tracks don’t have a digital audience. In fact, they generally frown upon any cameras at all and depend solely on attendance revenue. That’s a mistake even before the virus but now that mindset is going to come back and bite them, real hard.
If you’re a dirt track owner, you should already be forming plans for some kind of streaming platform. If this hasn’t crossed your mind, you’re asleep at the wheel. You should get to brainstorming, like as soon as yesterday.
Dirt tracks with a digital tv or online audience will have the ability to re-open. The government will not allow large gatherings but you can run races without fans.
There’s revenue to be made from online streams even if you take the easy way out with Pay-Per-View options. But, there’s multiple ways of doing it without opening the wallets of your fans.
As the government floats ideas of opening the economy, don’t get your hopes up. It’s highly unlikely that sporting venues featuring large gatherings will not be allowed to open anytime soon. That’s just a reality check.
Grandstands = Real Bad News
And for the sake of your own health and those around you, you shouldn’t even be eager to gather anyway. The virus hasn’t gone away. It’s still waiting to bite us all.
We’ve just been so far away from each other, in the comfort of our locked homes that the number of new cases has declined. That’s a misleading sense of security given nobody is out in contact, with anyone. When we go out, it’s going to spike, again.
Every other large gathering industry fully expects to be shut down for a very long time. Personally, I have no idea why the dirt racing community doesn’t understand that. As a result, they’re set to be totally blindsided in the coming weeks.
We may get passed the point of flooding the hospitals (the whole reason for a shut down). But, until a vaccine exists, this virus is still going to be a major threat to the health of the public. The government knows that and they’re not going to allow you to open. In fact, you’ll be the last to open.
Are you ready for that? Race track owners… Do you have a plan?
I’m just trying to help you out, help you see the reality and encourage you to prepare yourself. I want you to survive as much as anyone. With your current mindset, I’m genuinely concerned that you aren’t going to.
This is too painful to watch. Phone’s down, I’m going back to the window to gander at the wildlife. I’d head down for a closer look but I’m currently terrified of elevator buttons.