Organizers of the Nascar motor-racing series have announced plans to resume racing on 17 May with a Nascar Cup Series event at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
The 400-mile race will be held without fans in attendance and will be Nascar’s first on-track action in more than two months after the series was suspended in March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Darlington event will be the first of seven races over an 11-day span at two different race-tracks throughout May, with all other races set to take place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.
An Xfinity Series event will run at the Darlington Raceway on May 19, followed by another Nascar Cup Series race on May 20.
Charlotte Motor Speedway will stage Nascar Cup Series races on May 24 and 27, as well as Xfinity Series race on May 25 and a Gander Trucks event on May 26.
No dates beyond May 27 have been announced, but Nascar officials previously said that it intends to run a full 36-race Nascar Cup Series slate in 2020, with further updates on the scheduled set to be released in due course.
“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,” Nascar executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said.
“Nascar will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community.”
As part of this approach, Nascar said it collaborated with public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials to create a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of competitors and local communities. All races will adhere to specific guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This includes hosting one-day shows at above tracks that are all within driving distance of North Carolina race shops to minimize travel, while there will be no practice sessions at any of the announced events.
Other adjustments include mandating the use of protective equipment, health screenings for all individuals before entering the track and maintaining social distancing protocols throughout the race event.
Nascar’s most recent race of the 2020 season took place on March 8 at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, where Joey Logano win his second event of the year.
Should the rearranged races go ahead as planned, Nascar would be the first major sport in the US to resume activities amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The NFL football, NBA basketball, MLB baseball and NHL ice hockey are among the competitions yet to announce when they will return.
Last month, the New Hampshire Lottery added eNASCAR to its online sports betting platform to help fill the void left by the postponement of the Nascar season due to the coronavirus.
Nascar launched eNascar in 2018 and operates the iRacing Series through a partnership with Coca-Cola, with 40 leading sim racers competing in a 20-race schedule