South Dakota Speedway plans race event with 700 spectators on Saturday

Park Jefferson International Speedway in Jefferson plans to hold a motor racing event this Saturday, whether Governor Kristi Noem likes it or not.

It may seem like a bold strategy given the current state of the COVID-19 crisis in South Dakota and across the country, but organizers say they are taking safety precautions in order to host the event, which would include a maximum crowd of 700 people.

If the race takes place, it could be one of the first live sporting events in the country since the coronavirus outbreak brought the sports world to a halt – from March Madness to Major League Baseball to high school activities. – stopped last month.

During her press conference on Tuesday, Noem was asked about the event and advised people not to attend due to federal and state guidelines prohibiting public gatherings of 10 or more people.

“I’m going to strongly recommend that people in South Dakota don’t go there and stay home,” Noem said. “We ask them to be wise and smart to continue on the path and plan we have laid out for South Dakota for several more weeks.”

The Park Jefferson track is owned by Adam Adamson, who also owns A to Z Promotions. Saturday’s race, known as the Open Wheel Nationals, is co-promoted by Terry McCarl, who has promoted racing in the region for many years and also has the most race wins in the history of Huset’s Speedway.

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The stands hold 4,000 spectators, but Adamson said he capped capacity at 700 for Saturday’s event so fans can create a suitable space. All tickets were pre-sold, and Adamson said the entire event would be cashless. There will be no box office and concessions will all be made via credit card transactions.

The only building on the grounds that can accommodate more than 10 people — a clubhouse behind turn No. 1 — will be closed for Saturday’s event, he said.

“We intend to go overboard following CDC guidelines,” Adamson added. “We’re just a little race track in rural South Dakota trying to give some entertainment and some respite from some of this craziness that’s going on right now. We believe we can do this in a safe environment.

Noem has advocated for South Dakota residents to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings, but she is one of the few governors who has not issued a nationwide stay-at-home order. State or other enforceable restrictions. This opened the door for Park Jefferson to pick up the pace of reopening the racing schedule.

“Track racing is a niche sport, but there’s a lot of passion from the fans,” Adamson said. “We’re really just one of many small businesses across the state of South Dakota trying to operate.”

Saturday’s date is traditionally important for Park Jefferson as they host the annual South Dakota National Sprint Car Championships, which feature MSTS 360 sprint cars and IMCA 305 sprint cars. , which is why Park Jefferson switched to a smaller format and limited it to 64 cars.

Adamson said he and McCarl have been working on the event for some time and are in constant contact about what they can do to ensure it is a safe environment for racing fans, teams and employees. He said one of McCarl’s racing team sponsors was working to get face shields for all fans and employees.

“What should we be concerned about and what can we do about it? Adamson spoke about his conversations with McCarl. “How can we find the best and safest way for this event to happen? We try to go above and beyond to provide a safe environment for both our spectators and competitors. »

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Park Jefferson is not the only event on the racing schedule this summer in the region. Chuck Brennan, owner of Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, announced last week that he was planning a two-day show sometime this summer with a $100,000 payout.

Brennan said in a press release that they would hold the event in 2020 “if authorized by various government entities.”

“We don’t care if it’s June, July, August or September, whenever we get the green light from local, state and federal authorities,” the press release read.

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