Shelby County Speedway eyes opening race night
HARLAN (May 18) -- It is still an unknown when the Shelby County Speedway might hold its first racing night of the 2020 season, or if fans will be able to watch from the grandstand.
The SCS racing season was originally set to begin on April 17-18, but opening night was pushed back at least two weeks based on COVID-19 health concerns. Subsequent weekly Facebook posts announced the cancellation of races on May 2, May 9 and May 16 as well.
A Shelby County Speedway Facebook post on April 9 stated, in part: “To all of our Shelby County Speedway drivers, families, crews, fans and staff, please know that the health and well-being of you all is our primary concern. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely, and follow guidance from local healthcare and government experts... Thanks for your support and we look forward to being reunited with you all soon.”
As Iowa has gradually re-opened during recent weeks, some race tracks across the state have begun holding races without fans. Among the tracks scheduled to race this past weekend were the Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Adams County Speedway in Corning and the Boone Speedway.
According to Doug Batz, Shelby County Speedway Race Director and Promoter, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ May 13 proclamation stated that Iowa race tracks and speedways were allowed to hold races without fans, concessions or beer sales, and that 10 people per car would be allowed in the pit area.
The proclamation was scheduled to run through May 27, although Batz was told by a person in the governor’s office that there could be some revisions. Batz noted that he would prefer not to hold races until fans are allowed in the stands.
“We can race, but you can’t have fans or concessions. You can just have cars in the pits,” he said. “Some tracks are electing to do that. I don’t know how they pay their bills doing that, but that’s what they’re electing to do.
“Whether we race (May 23) I cannot tell you. I have a lot of pressure to race next weekend, but I also have to be somewhat dilligent with the community. The governor’s office did ask me to contact the [Harlan] police department or the sheriff. I did speak to an officer (Thursday) morning about the situation. They definitely are concerned about us racing because of Crawford County’s COVID-19 issues that seem to be increasing. We naturally would have a lot of drivers come from (there) and some of them actually work in the packing plants.”
Batz has also questioned the reasoning behind allowing 10 people per car in the pit area but nobody in the stands.
“They’re concerned about social distancing in the grandstand, and when they decided to allow 10 people per car... I said, ‘Well, if you had 100 cars in the pits and all 100 of them brought 10 people, where does our social distancing scenario come into play?’ There is no way that any track can monitor social distancing in the pits with that many people.”
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