NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from the Dover mayor and a hotel.
The August NASCAR weekend at Dover International Speedway got the green flag to go.
But fans did not.
The state did not approve the track’s plan to put a reduced number of fans in the stands and keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, the decision was made to not allow fans,” said Mike Tatoian, Dover International Speedway’s president and CEO in a press release. “We understand it, and while we are disappointed, we also realize that we need to err on the side of caution and yield to the opinions of public health experts to help reduce the further spread of COVID-19.”
As a NASCAR fan, Dover mayor Robin R. Christiansen is brokenhearted that fans will not be allow inside the Monster Mile when racing returns to the Dover International Speedway the weekend of Aug. 21 through 23.
It’s the economic impact that really has him upset.
“I know that they (the state) are basing their decision on science and I know that I’m not a scientist, but if they can have the State Fair and we were given ample warning, we could have come up with the social distancing guidelines where we could have had fans in the stands,” said Christiansen.
He called the two NASCAR weekends a year in Dover a big economic engine for the city.
“With the two races we have a year, we’re talking $94 million (including hotels and restaurants),” he said. “Even if you cut that in half or a 1/3 for this race, we’re talking about a big impact on the city.
“Right now, we’re taking two steps forward and three steps backward. We really want to get back to as close to normal as we can.”
Dover’s second NASCAR weekend takes place in October.
The Holiday Inn, one of the hotels nearest the speedway, will not be affected by fans not attending the race.
“There will be no impacts whatsoever, because we have other businesses that come into town,” said front desk day manager Andre, who was not allowed to give out his last name because of company policy.
Dover ticket holders for August have several options for their ticket funds, including a full refund or moving funds (including an extra 20 percent bonus) to Dover’s 2021 NASCAR weekend.
Fans can go to DoverSpeedway.com/exchange to register their preference or call (800) 441-RACE to talk to someone about options. The speedway is warning fans to be patient; a higher-than-normal call volume is expected.
The Aug. 21-23 NASCAR weekend includes the “Drydene Doubleheader Weekend” on Aug. 22-23, featuring a NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader each day, with all four races on NBCSN.
On Saturday, Aug. 22, the “Drydene 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series race starts at 12:30 p.m., followed by the “Drydene 311” NASCAR Cup Series race at 4 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 23, the “Drydene 200” NASCAR Xfinity Series race begins at 1 p.m., followed by the “Drydene 311” NASCAR Cup Series race at 4 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 21, the “General Tire 125” ARCA Menards Series East race begins at 2 p.m., followed by the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at 5 p.m. (FS1).