I. Getting The Car To The Track
I was just thinking about how a trip to the track would take place after the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted later in the Summer, or Fall of 2020. Let’s assume Fall. We will also assume we are in “Phase Three” for Louisiana and the rest of the USA, before a vaccine is found for Covid-19.
One thing that will never change is the price of racing fuel. With pump gas at a 2-3 decade low, it is my guess that racing fuel will still be just as high as it was.
Getting ready to go to the track will be almost normal. In addition to our air tank, fuel jugs, tools, safety gear, money and food, we would need our face masks and disposable gloves. Lots of Lysol Spray or Clorox Spray or Bleach for disinfectant, along with clean rags and hand wipes to clean tools, inside our trailers and the inside of the race car.
I would think they would restrict pit crews to three or four people in the pits, two in the staging area and one in the burn-out box. I would not attempt to take photos in the pits or staging lanes. Maybe some long range shots from the stands or off the photo pad.
II. The Track Personnel
Let’s talk about what track personnel would do. The things that are in good shape and already in compliance with the social-distancing rules: Only one person at the head of the staging lanes, one person at the burn-out box and one or two at starting line. We have one EMT in the Ambulance and one person handing the Time Slips. At many tracks, they have one person at the entrance gate, but that may have to change.
I think the way some tracks handle the gate, with one person in a booth taking money and giving out the wrist bands, while another person watches the driver, crew and spectators put their bands on, may be the way to go.
All of the track personnel would be in gloves and masks, and the people coming into the track should be wearing masks.
One place of major concern is the Technical Inspection Station. There are normally one or two inspectors and they also collect money for whatever class a driver decides to put his/her car into. This can get crowded sometimes at the start of Tech. Inspections. Drivers will have to stay with their cars. Drivers that per-qualify, and have been inspected at that track and given an OK earlier in the year, do not have to have their cars inspected (If your track honors the IHRA & NHRA rule that allows this). Those drivers that do not have to be inspected must practice social-distancing and not crowd up at the Tech Inspection station while they fill out their Tech. Cards.
The Tower is the last area that has a concentration of people. Normally an announcer, computer operator and one other person that answers the phone and spells the other two persons. At many tracks, that extra person takes care of buy-backs and answers a lot of questions and settles disputes, maybe.
I never cared for it, but at least one North Louisiana track only handles money at the gate. Entry fees, buy-backs and approved refunds. This requires good communication with the tower for the buy-backs. It is also a pain-in-the-a** for the drivers. This method prevents the buildup of people in the tower for buy-backs.
III. The Spectators
The people would have to be spread out all over the stands. Spectator side and Pit side, depending on the size of the crowd.
All of the area around the burn-out box and the starting line would be cleared of all spectators. Only the car and one crew member would be allowed in this area. This is the same conditions that have to be adhered too when a Divisional or National Event is held at the track.
IV. Misc. Items That May/Will Occur
What about visiting other trailers to say hello to another racer?
How do you handle a spectator stopping by to look at your car?
Standing in line at the concession stand. Social Distancing!
What to do when you need to borrow a part or a tool from another racer?
What about the restrooms?
We must control our children!
It looks like it would be possible, if the track owners can weather the storm. Last season was not a good one for the tracks in our area and this one is starting off very bad.
I hope the racers turn out for as many race days and nights as they can get to. We need to support our local tracks, owners and track personnel. Don’t forget the local speed shops, parts places and machine shops. We need all of them to keep our sport alive and well.
God Bless America. Pray for a Vaccine. Pray for all those families that have been hit by Covid-19. Pray for our Doctors, Nurses, hospital workers and service workers. We cannot let our guard down just because someone says our numbers are improving. We still have a long way to go.
For Now, Stay Home! Let’s get to Phase III.