N.C. Senators want NASCAR to race at Charlotte minus fans

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Five North Carolina Republican senators are calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to allow NASCAR to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans.

The May 16 All-Star Race and May 24 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway are the next scheduled Cup races after NASCAR postponed the May 9 Cup race at Martinsville Speedway on Friday.

North Carolina is under a stay-at-home order through April 29 that has closed race shops. The North Carolina order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

In a statement from Gov. Cooper’s spokesperson Monday: “Governor Cooper knows the importance of NASCAR to our state and he’s already been talking with track and team owners about how we could potentially restart racing. It’s too soon to predict specific decisions about future sporting events but any plan would prioritize public health and safety and preventing spread of the virus.”

In a press release on Sunday, N.C. Sen. Todd Johnson (Union County) states: “People are going stir-crazy with very few live sports underway, and allowing NASCAR racing in Charlotte would be a good first step toward returning to some semblance of normalcy. Gov. Cooper should permit fan-less racing.”

N.C. Sen. Paul Newton, who represents Cabarrus County, which is home to Charlotte Motor Speedway and some race teams, said in the press release: “NASCAR has already demonstrated it can safely run races without fans while practicing social distancing. Gov. Cooper should allow racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

N.C. Sen. Vickie Sawyer, who represents Iredell County, home to some race teams, said in the press release: “We should be looking at every safe example of a way to partially reopen society, and fan-less NASCAR racing seems like a simple step that Gov. Cooper can take right now.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis supports a fan-less NASCAR race in his state, saying on April 14 that people are “starved” for entertainment.

“I think if NASCAR does a race and can televise it without having a large crowd, I think that’s a good thing,” DeSantis told reporters.

“People are chomping at the bit. If you think about it, we have never had a period like this in modern American history where you’ve had so little new content, particularly in the sporting realm. I mean, we are watching reruns from like the early 2000s.”

NASCAR stated on Friday that it intends to run all 36 races, “with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined.” NASCAR has postponed eight races because of the COVID-19 pandemic.