It’s been a while since the Irwindale Speedway was closed down due to COVID-19 concerns, but the famous (and infamous) half-mile racetrack in California is back open for business. The first race to go-ahead after the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its health advisory against mass gatherings is scheduled to happen on Saturday, May 12th. The track will reopen with restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of the pandemic. The most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge Americans to avoid nonessential travel and stay-at-home routines for at least three months. The aim is to get the economy back on its feet, and the local racetrack is certainly aiming high.
The Return Of The King
For decades, the Irwindale Speedway has been a Mecca for American motorsport fans. The legendary half-mile track located in the town of Irwindale, California, just north of Los Angeles, has seen many a celebrity driver park their cars in the gravel trap. Among the racers who made the trek to Irwindale were Richard Petty, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Dale Earnhardt. The NASCAR Hall of Famer died there in 2000, but his name still rings out today in reference to one of the most famous turns at the track. Petty’s speedway is still the fastest in America. On Friday, April 24th, 2020, the legendary track finally reopened its gates for the first time in nearly a year.
No Mass Gatherings
The first order of business for the Irwindale Speedway is to ensure everyone stays healthy. For several weeks, the track was closed down due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. California was one of the first states to feel the brunt of the coronavirus, and the health and safety of the fans is the most important priority here. The guidelines from the CDC state that nonessential travel should be avoided and gatherings of more than 10 people should be avoided for now. All racing events and concerts have been canceled, and it seems the only chance of seeing a NASCAR race now is on TV.
Allowed Back On The Track
Even though the Irwindale Speedway is considered one of the most prestigious race tracks in North America, it was forced to close down and become a ghost town for a good part of the last year. However, with the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the track is ready to return to its former glory. The only stipulation is that things need to be done differently now. The racetrack is adhering to all the CDC guidelines as it tries to get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity. All upcoming races will be held without fans in attendance, and there will be restricted access to the facility for anyone who might potentially be carrying the virus. Safety first, and that means keeping people at a safe distance. It’s a lesson that everyone, especially the younger generations, need to learn.
To ensure everyone stays healthy, the Irwindale Speedway will be implementing increased safety measures. Gates will be locked and everyone will have to undergo a mandatory temperature check before entering the facility. Race attendees will also be required to wear masks. The track will be spraying down the asphalt every two hours, and there will also be hand sanitizing stations positioned around the facility. Safety measures didn’t stop there, either. Officials are also planning on setting up screens at various vantage points around the perimeter to block out any potentially dangerous outside views. Finally, a new sign will be posted at the end of the entrance road to indicate to drivers that they are now entering an active military base. This is to keep everyone aware that this is an official U.S. Army installation and to deter anyone from trespassing.
No More Empty Walks
One of the biggest problems the town of Irwindale faced last year was the lack of activity on the streets. With so many people keeping their distance due to the pandemic, it was almost impossible to get a decent walk or bike ride without running into at least a few others. Strolling down the streets of Irwindale was like walking into a ghost town. There were a few exceptions, of course, and it was mostly due to deliveries and people going to and from work that some life was maintained. However, as the economy begins to reopen, the residents are looking for ways to get back out there and start living their lives again. The one place they can do that is the streets surrounding the Irwindale Speedway. With the gates opened and the virus in the rearview mirror, the town is looking forward to getting back to its old self.