North Carolina has shut down Ace Speedway located at 3401 Altamahaw Race Track Rd, Elon, North Caroline 27244 because they failed to provide protection to the racers and spectators. They will not be allowed to reopen unless they provide a plan to the state.
At the time these photos were taken North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s had in place a state restriction banning outside gatherings of 25 or more people, Ace Speedway opened the gates for a racing card and welcomed a packed house to the venue, which holds about 5,000. This story spread onto TMZ that has a following of 8.1 millon so weather you agree or not it did not help change the minds of the powers that be.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called it a “reckless decision” for a racetrack to hold what was described as a “unity race” last weekend as a way to avoid restrictions on mass gatherings. Gov. Cooper vowed that the state would take action this week if the county did not.
“People shouldn’t run a money-making operation that puts in danger not only their customers but anybody who would come into contact with their customers,” Gov. Cooper said. “This is a reckless decision being made by the owners, pulling people together in that way that can cause the spread of the (corona-virus) virus.
“Alamance County (home of the track) is one of the counties that is having higher numbers than it should have. We look forward to taking some action on this in the coming week.
“It’s concerning that Alamance officials have not been able to stop this. We would hope that they could. But if they can’t, then the state will have to take action, which we will do this week if the local officials don’t.”
On May 21, 2020 Ace Speedway owner Robert Turner was quoted in a story by Adams Smith of the Times News
“I’m going to race and I’m going to have people in the stands,” Turner said Wednesday night. “And unless they can barricade the road, I’m going to do it. The racing community wants to race. They’re sick and tired of the politics. People are not scared of something that ain’t killing nobody. It may kill .03 percent, but we deal with more than that every day, and I’m not buying it no more.
“I’ve got a business to run and a job to do, and when I can’t run my business and I can’t go to my job and make a full paycheck, I’m in jail already. So getting behind bars does not scare me. I’m going to speak my piece, and we’re going to do something.”
The General Cousel for Gov. Cooper addressed a four-page letter June 5 to Alamance County officials, including Sheriff Johnson that stated: “The recent races conducted by ACE Speedway, however, constitute commercial events, rather than gatherings filling under the auspices of the First Amendment, and therefore do not fall within that exemption. The Governor has broad authority to restrict commercial operations to address emergencies, like the public health emergency posed by COVID-19.”
Sheriff Johnson announced Monday that he would not issue the track a citation for all the fans it hosted last weekend, stating: “I have found through research and contacts with other Sheriffs in the state, that numerous speedways and Go (Kart) Tracks ran this weekend in North Carolina with no action being taken on those owners or even warnings given. This concerns me greatly to know that my citizens have basically been singled out for the same alleged violations that are occurring all over the State of North Carolina. … I have always tried to treat all persons with respect and dignity. Everyone should be treated equally. My understanding of the law and the conflicting orders issued by the Governor, leads me to question my authority on writing a citation to Mr. Robert Turner, owner of ACE Speedway.”
As of 6-9–2020 12 pm Alamance County has 519 cases with 23 deaths from Covid-19. North Carolina as a whole at the time this was posted has 37,160 cases of covid -19 NCDHHS’ COVID-19 Response dashboard
Cohen’s order issued Monday tells the owners they must announce publicly that the races are canceled until Cooper’s executive order expires June 26, although that could be extended. The speedway could reopen sooner if its operators create a plan that would keep spectators away, perform daily symptom checks of employees and conduct frequent cleaning.
The next regularly scheduled race at the 0.4-mile track is June 19.
The speedway appeared to attempt to bypass the governor’s rules last Saturday by suggesting the gathering was protected by a First Amendment exemption. A placard at the speedway read: “This event is held in peaceful protest of injustice and inequality everywhere.” Demonstrations had occurred in major cities over the past 10 days after the Minnesota police custody death of George Floyd. This is going to be hard to justify when your charging for attendance and racer participation. The citation if one is ever issued would be class 2 misdemeanor which can carry a fine
NASCAR, which resumed racing last month at its major tracks without any crowds, announced Tuesday it would allow some fans back for races later in the month in Florida and Alabama.
NHRA has two events coming in July to Lucas Oil Raceway but spectator tickets are limited to US Nationals existing ticket holders and NHRA members
Will keep an eye on this and update as more details emerge.