NASCAR and VARA break the silence: Real racing resumes in two weeks

Ready for racing to start up again? Here's some good news in a dark time

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Racing Resumes

NASCAR and the California-based Vintage Auto Racing Association (VARA) are the first sanctions to break the silence and will put on races.

NASCAR and the California-based Vintage Auto Racing Association will be the first sanctioning bodies to will stage live races as the coronavirus lockdown is loosened. 

VARA’s British Extravaganza, May 15-16 at Buttonwillow Raceway in California, will go on as planned, the vintage racing group announced.

VARA added that it is working closely with safety experts to practice proper social distancing in the paddock and common areas while getting the cars back on track.

Meanwhile, NASCAR announced “a unique schedule that includes midweek races in primetime and a NASCAR crown jewel – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – in its traditional Memorial Day Weekend home for the 60th consecutive season.”

The live racing schedule includes a 400-mile Cup event May 17 at Darlington, South Carolina, a 200-mile Xfinity race May 19 at the same location, a 500-kilometer Cup event, also at Darlington, on May 20. 

Also, the 600-mile Cup race May 24 at Charlotte, North Carolina, a 300-mile Xfinity race May 25 at Charlotte, a 200-mile Gander Trucks series event May 26 at Charlotte and a 500-kilometer Cup race May 27 at Charlotte.

The NASCAR races will be contested without fans in attendance.

In a letter to VARA members, club president Scott Parsons said, “We have been working Capt. Craig Sanford on creating proper safety protocols for the event. Things like one in one out in registration, single page per team waivers sheets, 6-foot social distancing in any que’s and in common areas around paddock spaces.”

“We will also be asking all teams to give a bit more space between Pit spaces, Parsons continued. “The drivers meeting will be in written form and over the Pa system as to limit any large gathering in any single area, along with the use of face masks in and around the paddock.”

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This will be an experiment in getting things opening up again. Certainly, the usual jovial comradery of a race weekend will be hindered slightly. However, for many, the ache of getting the car back on track in anger is worth the accommodation.

Many other clubs will most likely follow the lead, whereas the big-time shows such as Formula One and IndyCar remain on the virtual racing circuits. NASCAR announced on April 30, they will resume with no spectators and IndyCar has proposed “no-spectator” races. What is unfortunate is the huge costs to the individual promoters, who rely on ticket and concession sales poses a far greater hinderance.

Many VARA members, including Steve Belfer, one of the soundtrack creators for Sponge Bob Squarepants, are chomping at the bit to get back on track. While he says he will not be participating in the May event due to COVID-19 fears, he has taken full advantage of the quarantine to get his Triumph TR3 ready for when the “all clear” is given. 

Belfer has produced a series of “garage” videos show getting his car ready – including an engine swap (Look for the author at 0:57 of the video).

Cautiously, VARA, a not-for-profit is willing to take this step as revenues come directly from the participants who pay club/licensing dues and entry fees. Spectators, who are usually sparse to club events, must possess a crew pass.

Parsons gives final advice in the letter: “Think of your pit space as home when alone no mask when other are around face mask please.”

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