The NASCAR Cup Series‘ Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 and Dixie Vodka 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will proceed as scheduled, just with empty grandstands. On Thursday, NASCAR announced that in the wake of the COVID-19 virus, both race weekends will be closed off to fans.
“At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance,” a NASCAR statement read. “These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race. We will work with public health officials as we determine future scheduling beyond these events.”
Earlier in the day, with many sporting events suspended or postponed, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A. Gimenez announced the Dixie Vodka 400 would be rescheduled unless NASCAR intended to race behind closed doors. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series also followed suit, moving the NASCAR GP Spain at Circuit Ricardo Tormo from April to late October/early November.
In the week leading up to the Atlanta race, NASCAR had begun efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. Such strategies included having drivers pre-sign merchandise with their own writing utensils, moving events like the driver’s meeting outdoors, and creating buffer zones between certain fan and driver locations.
“In consideration of fan and industry stakeholder safety, NASCAR events scheduled March 13-15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be held without spectators,” said a track statement. “Ticketholders on file for these events will receive a full credit toward AMS purchases for grandstand seating, infield access, camping, fan hospitality and pit passes. The credit will be applicable towards any Speedway Motorsports NASCAR race in the remainder of 2020 or the 2021 season.
“We regret the inconvenience of these circumstances and appreciate your patience and understanding. Further questions should be directed to the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211.”
Similar measures have been taken across other forms of motorsport. Some series like MotoGP and Formula E have postponed or outright cancelled their races, while others like Formula One‘s Australian Grand Prix are up in the air. Like NASCAR, IndyCar‘s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has been reported as potentially being run with no fans in attendance.