Fontana/Long Beach’s dates not a good sign for west coast races for 2021, why a vaccine is looking like the only way to get back in the seats out there

INDIANAPOLIS — It isn’t an easy time to be a race fan on the west coast right now. Unfortunately, racing events were few and far between on the left coast in 2020. Even the ones that were run, most were staged without fans in attendance. Now, 2021 is looking at going the same way too unfortunately.

INDYCAR didn’t run a single race on the west coast last year. Long Beach, Portland and Laguna Seca were all canceled. NASCAR, got through their west coast swing prior to the pandemic, but the second round through, fans weren’t really included in any event.

Sonoma was canceled, Vegas didn’t have fans and Phoenix was limited to around 8k for their season finale weekend.

With 2021 supposed to be the year that everything got back on track, it’s clearly showing for the west coast states at least, that until a vaccine is widely circulated, nothing is going to happen in their states that involves masses of fans in the grandstands.

INDYCAR just moved Long Beach to the season finale. They’ll run that race on Sept. 26. It was slated to go in April, as usual. Laguna and Portland are on the schedule too, but also in September.

That means INDYCAR will go two years between west coast visits as they last ran out west at Laguna Seca on Sept. 2019. It won’t be until Sept. 12, 2021 that they race out west again.

NASCAR is in a similar situation too. Fontana was announced to be canceled recently. That race won’t happen at all in 2021. They go to Vegas for the Cup Series on March 7 and Phoenix (March 14) a week later. With how things are going, do you really expect either to have fans at them?

I doubt you’ll see the Vegas spring race weekend with fans. They didn’t have any fans in October and the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t currently hosting any fans for their NFL season. What’s going to change in less than three months time?

Phoenix did have a small amount of fans in November and I can see a similar amount in March. But, with cases rising still, do they reel things back in a bit? ‘

The Daytona 500 and the road course race now at Daytona a week later is with limited capacity. So is Homestead’s race on Feb 28. We just talked about Vegas and Phoenix, so is Atlanta (March 21) the first weekend with more fans?

I highly doubt that too.

But, after Vegas and Phoenix in March, none of the big racing series here in North America visit out west until June at Sonoma. But, is that race in danger?

They had no race in 2020 and I have a feeling they’ll need to recoup that loss with hosting some fans in 2021. All the other west coast races are in the Fall now. Sonoma, likely isn’t going to have many fans, if any, for their June 6 date for Cup. With the Fall NASCAR schedule already booked, is Sonoma going to get skipped over again in 2021?

It’s something NASCAR has to be thinking about now. You know that they have a plan just in case. They don’t go back west until Sept. 26 for the Cup playoff race in Vegas. INDYCAR isn’t out west until Sept. 12.

What makes us think Vegas (March 7), Phoenix (March 14) and Sonoma (June 6) will be normal? Everything else is being pushed to the Fall out west with the hopes of having some fans back in the stands.

That means the most realistic option for anyone out west to be back to normal at a race is next September. That’s nine months away. You missed most of 2020 and now going to miss most of 2021.

Then, you next have to wonder if anything is going to be in place to even open back up out there by the Fall at that. It’s clearly going to take a vaccine because the virus isn’t going away without one it seems. But, can a vaccine get out to that many people in less than a year and be effective? Will it be safe? Will it have dire side effects? Will it keep the virus from spreading any further? Will it have long term effects years or decades down the road? Will you affect your body in any way if you take it? Can they assure that if that needle goes in your arm that it’s not going to harm your body in any way today, tomorrow and 90 years down the road? Can you safely answer those questions right between now and the end of next summer? Will enough people opt to take it?

See where this is going?

The sanctions are tight out west as we sit and they’re clearly going to remain that way for a while. The other sporting leagues are affected as well with the San Francisco 49ers playing in Arizona for their home games.

It’s not going to be easy to be a race fan out west if you’re one that is passionate and wanting to attend races. It’s looking more and more likely that it won’t be until September at the very earliest that you can come back and that’s hampering on a vaccine it seems.

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