NASCAR is heading back to the race track. The racing outfit will hold its next event on May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina — without spectators.
NASCAR becomes the first major U.S. sporting league to formally announce its plans to come back amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Professional Bull Riders resumed competition last weekend. NASCAR’s May 17 race will serve as the first of seven races over an 11-day span at two different race tracks throughout May.
Its last race was on March 8, a few days before sports across the country halted or delayed the start to their seasons.
“NASCAR and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “NASCAR will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community. We thank local, state and federal officials and medical experts, as well as everyone in the industry, for the unprecedented support in our return to racing, and we look forward to joining our passionate fans in watching cars return to the track.”
The racing body consulted with public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal authorities to create a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of competitors and surrounding communities at the upcoming events. All races will follow specific guidelines set by the CDC.
NASCAR said that event procedures will be “significantly modified” to follow CBS, OSHA and state and local government recommendations. These include hosting one-day shows at the two tracks (the other being Charlotte Motor Speedway), which are all within driving distance of North Carolina race shops to minimize travel and time spent in a community.
There will be no practice sessions for any event, and qualifying will only be held for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.
All races will be televised by Fox Sports.