SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Virtual racing has become a real success during the coronavirus pandemic, but Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson, South Dakota is set to host an actual dirt-track event on Saturday.
Sprint car legend and promoter Terry McCarl is bringing the Open Wheel Nationals to Park Jefferson Speedway.
“I’m a race car driver and race promoter and race enthusiast and we miss having races,” Front Row Challenge Enterprises President Terry McCarl said.
The event will feature 410 Outlaw Sprint Cars, IMCA Modifieds, and some of the sport’s top drivers, but won’t play to a packed house. The speedway holds more than 4,000 people, but only 700 tickets were sold, allowing fans to observe social distancing guidelines.
“The way we figured it, we could probably have a little over 900 people with six feet apart between each person, and we’re actually only selling 700 seats, not even 900, we actually went way less than that just to give people more room,” McCarl said.
The list of restrictions and recommendations extend beyond the grandstand.
“Concession will be very limited. We’ll have the floors marked like you do when you go to a local grocery store to make sure people stay apart. We’re obviously telling everyone to bring their own face mask, their own bandana, anything to keep your face covered,” McCarl said.
“The pit area holds roughly 150 teams in the past. We’re only allowing 32 teams in each class. There will be two classes, 64 teams,” McCarl said.
Park Jefferson Speedway is located in Union County, which has seven total positive cases of COVID-19.
“There isn’t community transmission in that county and according to the CDC we’re still eligible to do what we want to do,” McCarl said.
That said, McCarl is going the extra mile to keep fans safe, and hopes Governor Kristi Noem agrees.
“Hopefully she sees it our way and know that we’re not just trying to barely get by, we’re not being greedy, we’re not allowing a bunch of people, we’re doing less, less than we probably could do and trying to go above and beyond everything we’re supposed to do to keep people safe,” McCarl said.
Tickets are sold out, but the event is available on pay-per-view. Governor Noem wasn’t aware of Saturday’s event, but said at Monday’s briefing she will communicate with organizers about their plans.
Statement from the Union County Sheriff:
“Union County Sheriff’s Department is aware that both Jefferson, SD racetracks will be racing during the coming weekends. South Dakota State Government has not issued any closures of any businesses within the State of South Dakota. The South Dakota State Government has only issued CDC advisories as they pertain to COVID-19. With this being said both racetracks are very aware of the CDC recommendations as they pertain to COVID-19. People have a choice to attend these events and are in no way being forced to attend. The Union County Sheriff’s Office will not be taking any legal action against either racetrack as they are both very aware of the current CDC advisories relating to COVID-19.”