Since the spread of COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) began in Wuhan, China in December, 2019, many sporting leagues have begun talking about taking, or have indeed begun taking action in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, NASCAR had remained silent. Until Wednesday.
Atlanta Motor Speedway announced early Wednesday, that personal hand sanitizer will be available for each attendee who comes through the ticket gate throughout race weekend.
Race to good hygiene! Pick up free hand sanitizer at your entry gate this weekend! pic.twitter.com/5bNi9aPGqD
— Atlanta Motor Speedway (@amsupdates) March 11, 2020
Also, on Wednesday, NASCAR revealed through a note to the media, that they have added an infectious disease specialist to their consulting physician group to provide technical assistance and to inform policy. In following with these discussions and guidance from this counsel, NASCAR is implementing several adjustments to race event operations effective this weekend at Atlanta.
NASCAR will hold it’s driver meetings in open-air locations (typically they have taken place in a tent, which is closed with sidewalls), and fans will not be permitted to attend the meeting. Only drivers, team owners, crew chiefs and select race officials and dignitaries will be granted access.
Following all on-track events, where a post-race media bullpen takes place, there will be a six-foot gap between the media members and drivers. The same six-foot buffer zone will be in effect at driver introductions, the starting grid as well as victory lane.
As far as autographs, NASCAR is recommending that teams and drivers only sign hero cards (as opposed to die-casts and other random items that fans carry into the facility) and that they should have the hero cards pre-signed.
NASCAR will also nix their organized driver appearances in race markets in the weeks leading up to a race weekend.
NASCAR also included that all individuals coming to the infield care center demonstrating symptoms potentially consistent with Coronavirus will be appropriately handled by medical professionals. NASCAR states that all facilities have been provided a standard operating process following CDC guidelines.
This is the plan for Atlanta, and these procedures are expected to be in place indefinitely. However, with the spread of the virus and effected areas continuing to change by the day, changes to this process could happen from week to week.
As of now, NASCAR has not indicated whether they will postpone races or run spectator-free if there is a government ban on large gatherings and assemblies in an area where a race is scheduled to be run.
The Governor of the state of Washington has placed a ban on all large gatherings in the Seattle, Washington region. This has led to the cancellation of this week’s Monster Energy Supercross Event at CenturyLink Field. That event was set for March 28th.
The NCAA has also taken the steps of having no fans in attendance for the March Madness basketball tournament, and the NBA has been seriously talking about doing the same for their games.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) has now officially been transmitted to 938 people in the United States. 29 of those infected with the virus have died as a result.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.