Good Question: When can race tracks have fans?

Brennan Somers
Updated: July 06, 2020 01:06 PM
Created: July 06, 2020 04:14 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC/ AP) — This Good Question is a follow up about sports and fans.

A viewer named Steven asked News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: When can race track have fans?


Previously, News10NBC has told you about tracks and how they can reopen but fans are banned outright. The state rules are clear, “No audience, fans or spectators shall be authorized to attend or permitted entrance to any auto racetrack.”

Despite the guidelines from Albany, there are still some local tracks moving forward and hosting races with fans in the stands, anyway.

They believe a recent ruling from a court, related to churches and places of worship, applies to them as well. Restrictions limiting the number of people who can attend outdoor religious gatherings were lifted by the injunction.

However, the governor's office says this is not the case:

The current guidance issued by New York State is clear – auto racing tracks are allowed to operate without fans or spectators. If an operator holds an event that violates the Executive Order and public health law, they are subject to serious penalties, including but not limited to fines of up to $10,000 and suspension or revocation of state license to operate.

If someone witnesses a business operating in violation of current policy, they can file a complaint (including anonymously) here or call 1-833-789-0470.

There's also some new hope for one of the biggest events of the year in the Finger Lakes.

Track president Michael Printup from Watkins Glen International is hoping Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make an exception for NASCAR in mid-August. Printup said WGI’s proposal to Cuomo will be to allow only people from the state and within 150 miles of the track to attend.

“We think we have a pretty good plan on being able to allow a limited number of fans,” Printup said. “We know that to ask him to bring fans from outside the state was probably going to be a big stretch. It’s all about social distancing, temperature takes of every fan. We can social distance them in the grandstands. We have plenty of those.”

And surely plenty of space to spread out. WGI covers over 1,800 acres, one of the largest of the 12 tracks NASCAR owns.

“We could probably get 30% to 50% (capacity), but I think to be reasonable we’re going to have to probably bring that number down just to make the governor and his team comfortable,” Printup said. “If they get 30,000 at Bristol (in mid-July), that’s probably the outside of what we could do.”

So far, the coronavirus has barely touched Schuyler County, surrounding the track. Only 15 cases have been confirmed.

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