NASCAR is tightening up restrictions again. On Tuesday, they announced changes to help prevent the drivers from having outside contact with fans, media and even team members. It’s all by design to keep them healthy and save in order to get to the end of the season at Phoenix on Nov. 7 without any COVID interruptions.
- Guests are no longer permitted to access team haulers or garage stalls.
- Guests’ access to the grid has been suspended until further notice; only NASCAR-licensed individuals will be permitted on the grid.
- Drivers are prohibited from visiting suites, although teams can still host guests in controlled, outdoor and distanced meetings with drivers.
- Driver movement routes will be planned to eliminate casual interactions between themselves and fans.
- Additionally, driver intros and Victory Lane will be modified to significantly reduce driver exposure through various means such as staggered timings, secure routes, masks in the holding area and a reduced number of people in Victory Lane.
In regards to media personnel at the track:
- Media will not be permitted to access team haulers or garage stalls.
- Media will be required to wear masks while interacting with drivers and team personnel, even while outside.
- Media members will still be permitted to access the grid with either a NASCAR hard card or essential credential.
- Media engagements will take place in controlled, spaced-out settings.
A previously announced requirement for masks to be worn in enclosed areas at all times, regardless of vaccination status, remains in effect.
It’s honestly a sign of the times for now and one that I feel is just the beginning of what’s going to honestly look like 2020 in order to get to the completion of the season. I know fans are mad and outraged that as they feel like they were promised things would start to look more normal as the year goes on. The gates opened up broader and grandstands increasingly became more packed.
We went from limited capacity at events to full houses again. The garage and pits opened back up and most races from really the Coca-Cola 600 on felt like normal. Now, folks are wondering what happened?
Well, I’m not a doctor so I won’t make any medical reasons other than the fact of the matter is, that it doesn’t matter your vaccine status or not, anyone at anytime can get COVID and pass it along to the next person. While I get the numbers are lower for unvaccinated people to get and pass on COVID than those that are vaccinated, you can’t ignore the facts that breakthrough cases are out there and they’re rising too.
States are looking like hotbeds again and NASCAR had to be proactive. After all, we’re down to 12 weeks left and by tightening up restrictions, we can get to the finish line and do so on schedule.
As much as fans want to say so, NASCAR doesn’t hate fans. They don’t want to go back to hosting events behind closed doors. They don’t want your favorite driver to miss a race and ruin a shot at a championship due to a COVID diagnosis. So, in order to get through this season, why not bubble off the pits/garage again and by doing so be able to crown a champion?
I get fans want that access, but at the end of the day, you also go to tracks to see a race. If you want to meet drivers it means you already are a fan. You’re not at the track to get an autograph but ignore on track activity.
The on track activity is what pays the bills and allows NASCAR to be a sport. So, in order to keep cars rolling around those tracks, they need these drivers safe. While I get it can affect sponsorship and luring folks that pay the bills to the teams via sponsorship, NASCAR isn’t saying you can’t come. They’re just saying to keep a safe distance from the drivers for the final 12 races.
Plus, 11 of the 12 races are one day shows without practice or qualifying anyways.
It’s better than the alternative because there’s plans also in place to move races around. Do you really want that? This isn’t just a NASCAR thing, there’s other racing series are know their end of the season are in peril too if they don’t adjust.
That’s why to get to the close of the 2021 seasons, we’re going to go back to 2020 protocols to do so.