By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
A sense of normalcy will begin to unfold at both Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway as NASCAR announced Tuesday they’ve approved those tracks to bring guests at the races under strict guidelines.
Beginning with the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead June 14, invites will be given up to 1,000 South Florida service members as honorary guests who can see the race from the grandstands. Notably, representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Florida.
“The ability to host these esteemed guests for the Dixie Vodka 400 is an important step in the gradual return of live sporting events across the globe,” said Al Garcia, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“The opening of our track 25 years ago was a sign of hope following the devastation in South Miami-Dade County as a result of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Today we are privileged and feel a deep sense of responsibility for the same chance during these challenging times. Having South Florida service members at our race is a true honor, and is very symbolic as we begin to have guests back at our NASCAR events.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said that he’s proud that Homestead will be the first NASCAR track that’ll allow fans back into the stands, especially that it’s the South Florida military getting an invitation of attending the race.
“Miami-Dade County is proud to be the site of the return of NASCAR following COVID-19 closures across the nation earlier this year,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Sunday’s race is a fitting tribute to our South Florida service members representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command. By following the public health protocols as we continue moving to a New Normal, NASCAR is ensuring that our military members and their families can enjoy the race in a safe way.”
As far as race fans are concerned, it won’t be until the GEICO 500 at Talladega June 21, but will only allow 5,000 guests in the fronstretch grandstands/towers. Tickets are only open to those who live within 150 miles of the 2.66-mile Alabama circuit.
“We have a great respect for the responsibility that hosting fans brings, and it’s an honor for Talladega Superspeedway to be one of the first sports facilities to do so since the coronavirus pandemic started,” said Brian Crichton, President of Talladega Superspeedway.
“NASCAR and the track staff will continue to work with health and government officials, and be ready to provide a safe experience for the NASCAR fans in attendance.”
Additionally, there are limited motorhome/fifth wheel camping spots available atop of the Alabama Gang Superstretch (outside the track) and its open exclusively on a first come, first serve basis to those who’ve purchased tickets or reserved a camping spot when the race was originally scheduled on April 26.
Furthermore, there will be strict health guidelines beginning with fans being screened before entering the track and are required to wear face coverings. Social distancing at six feet will be mandated and they’re not allowed infield access.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey commented that she’s excited to have limited amount of fans attend the race and praised the hard effort being made to accomplish this feat.
“As we continually work to safely reopen our economy, I am excited to see our NASCAR fans have a chance to attend the upcoming race at Talladega Superspeedway,” said Governor Ivey. “The folks at Talladega have been working hard to ensure they are prepared to welcome their fans back with all of the necessary health and safety protocols.”
Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President, Chief Operations and Sales Officer, said the initial progress of allowing fans back to the races is a progress but is certainly looking forward to slowly ushering in crowds to the sport once again.
“We have tremendous respect and appreciation for the responsibility that comes with integrating guests back into our events,” said Wolfe. “We believe implementing this methodical process is an important step forward for the sport and the future of live sporting events. The passion and unwavering support of our industry and fans is the reason we race each weekend and we look forward to slowly and responsibly welcoming them back at select events.”
Before getting to Homestead, NASCAR does have race tomorrow at Martinsville Speedway for the running of the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. Live coverage of the 500-lap night race begins at 7:00 pm EST on FS1.