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  • tombergie01

Time to Let the Minnesota Dirt Tracks Race -- With Fans

This picture from I-94 Sure Step Speedway is from a few years ago, showing fans in the seats.

This blog won’t be very long. It’s time for the state of Minnesota to let dirt racetracks race — with fans. This week. Let's not wait anymore.

And I'm not talking about 100 fans or 250 fans limits that are currently in place, either. Has to be a legit grandstand.

Social distancing can and should be practiced to slow the spread of Covid-19, and at the tracks I’ve attended in North Dakota and Wisconsin, for the most part has been. That includes in the concession/ticket lines (six feet apart in the line), that includes sitting in the stands (only families are the large groups sitting together). Guess what, there hasn’t been any outbreaks as a result of racetracks opening and having racing. With fans. Iowa and Nebraska have opened tracks to fans with no major outbreaks. If people practice common sense this virus won't spread.

Every track I’ve been to has hand sanitizer readily available for people (trust me I've used it several times). Concession workers wear masks at every track I’ve been to which I admire because that is not a fun job. Those who were unable to practice social distancing, for the most part, wore masks. Not all, mind you but a good amount. Keep in mind if you are six feet apart, you are following CDC guidelines.

Some tracks have raced without fans — Deer Creek, Jackson come to mind. I-94 Sure Step Speedway opened its tailgate area to fans last week but not the main grandstand. A few, like Norman County Raceway, Princeton and North Central in Brainerd, opened with very limited fans. The 250-person limit (or 25 percent capacity up to that) currently in place on fans is not financially sustainable for any track in the long term. I’d shoot for this — how about letting tracks open at 60 percent fan capacity to start? Put social distancing protocols in place like the tracks in North Dakota and Wisconsin. Have the people who feel ill stay home. Don’t require masks but strongly recommend them. Have your ticket and concession lines set up so people can stand 6 feet apart.

Not everybody is perfect on the social distancing stuff but I think people in our racing world are aware enough to be vigilant without living in fear. And I wonder how many of the outbreaks in the country are a result of people being careless, or maybe not practicing social distancing while protesting a few weeks ago (I didn’t see everyone with a mask and I didn’t see everyone six feet apart in many of the videos/photos of those). For the record I support the protesters who are protesting peacefully for justice for George Floyd, to be clear.

My big worry is that some Minnesota tracks won’t open at all this year, following suit of Buffalo River Race Park’s announcement earlier this spring. My bigger worry is that if they don’t open this year, they may close for good. It’s a concern I’ve talked to a few Minnesota drivers about. I hope those scenarios don’t play out.

We need to contact Gov. Tim Walz’s office. Here is the form. Don’t be satisfied with a form letter response or an email listing all of the great things he has done to slow the virus. In some cases it's a county or city that needs to be contacted to get the ball rolling on easing the restrictions. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

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