DOVER, Del. – The Dover International Speedway will be making history come August.
It’s planning to host six NASCAR races over the course of one weekend for the first time ever. Those races could look a lot different if Governor John Carney’s office doesn’t approve their plan for hosting fans in person. “Given the circumstances that we’re in right now, we are going to be running those six races as we sit here today without fans,” said Dover International Speedway CEO Mike Tatoian.
Tatoian says right now the plan is to hold races on the weekend of August 21st through 23rd with no fans. He tells 47ABC that DIS has submitted a plan to Governor Carney’s office that would allow spectators to come watch the race in person. Tatoian says that includes reducing the speedway’s seating capacity, cleaning public areas, encouraging social distancing, and providing hand sanitization. “It was a 40 or 50 page document that really outlines every single step that we would take that covers inside the track and our fans outside the track,” said Tatoian.
Dover City Councilman Ralph Taylor says that races like this one usually bring an economic boost to the city – but he’s concerned about safety. “I would really love to have the race and have us have some sense of normalcy. I just don’t believe that we’re totally there yet,” said Taylor.
Taylor tells 47ABC that with the race comes the important decision of whether the city should welcome an economic jump-start in spite of a global pandemic. “Do we want to be remembered as that, or do we want to be remembered as that city that held the race even though COVID numbers were spiking and now we’re known as that ground zero?” said Taylor.
Tatoian says that DIS is ready to accommodate fans in a way that would encourage safety. “We’re prepared to do that, and we’re planning on doing that and I think that’s what the public and fans would expect of us,” said Tatoian.
Taylor says that Dover City Council hasn’t officially discussed the upcoming race series. But he expects the event to be covered during upcoming meetings – specifically with the Safety, Advisory and Transportation Committee. “It impacts our seniors. It impacts those who have underlying health concerns, and since we don’t know who all those people are with the healthcare issues, I just think that we need to protect everybody,” said Taylor.