The plan to reintroduce guests at select NASCAR Cup Series races will begin with the June 14 Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR, which postponed racing in mid-March due to concerns over the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and resumed action in mid-May, said it will welcome up to 1,000 invited military members to the Miami race while Talledega will allow up to 5,000 guests.
Homestead-Miami can normally host up to 46,000 fans while the capacity at Talladega Superspeedway ranges between 80,000-175,000.
Among the safety measures in place, NASCAR said guests in attendance will be screened before entering, required to wear face coverings and maintain social distance.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for the responsibility that comes with integrating guests back into our events,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Daryl Wolfe said in a statement.
“We believe implementing this methodical process is an important step forward for the sport and the future of live sporting events.
NASCAR has returned to racing, but had not allowed fans inside the tracks in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
John Bobo, NASCAR vice president of racing operations declined to reveal if NASCAR has had anyone test positive for COVID-19 since racing resumed May 17 at Darlington Raceway. Supercross said earlier this month no one tested positive for the virus when it resumed with 705 riders, team members and race officials on site.
“We’re going to have PPE there for fans if they didn’t bring their own,” Bobo said. “We’re going to instruct fans to do it. Then staff is also going to make sure that we do have compliance in that area when needed politely.”
Talladega tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis to fans who purchased tickets or reserved camping for the originally scheduled April 26 race. There will be limited menus and limited food preparation onsite.
NASCAR had set guidelines to safely hold the events using CDC guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment. The venues were completely used to maintain distancing in garage stalls and where the haulers are parked, while drivers self-isolate in their motorhomes as they prepare to compete.
“We really miss our fans, but, at the same time, we’re with our fans,” 2018 NASCAR champion Joey Logano said. “Before the races start and you’re on pit road and you don’t have any fans around you, you can’t hear any cheering or booing from driver’s intros, or everyone getting all fired up before they say ‘drivers start your engines.’ We don’t have that part, but when the race starts, the race starts and you’re kind of in the zone and you don’t notice it.”
NASCAR was the first major sport in the United States to return to action amid the CCP virus pandemic when it held a May 17 race in South Carolina without spectators.
By Frank Pingue
The Associated Press contributed to this report.