2020 Season on Hold — Can it be Possibly Saved in a Small Way

Crédit photo : Don Simpson

By now, everyone is tired of this medical emergence and the never-ending lockdown, bringing the racing world to a stop. The situation in recent days has even worsened as the Quebec Government has set new guidelines until August 31 of this year.

The routes of Dirt track racing in Quebec go way back to the 50s. The sport has had its ups and downs along the way and has evolved to what it has become today. But in all those years, there has never been a situation where one event has damaged the sport intensely so much in such a short period.

For tracks like Autodrome Drummond, this was supposed to be a season of celebration with 2020 being the 70th season of racing at this historic track. There were several big events scheduled for this season across the summer months to keep fans engaged with the 70th celebrations.

The situation at Autodrome Granby and Le RPM Speedways may not be as dire as at Drummond, but still with both tracks sitting at an idol, it is very disappointing.

St-Guillaume Super Speedway, Autodrome BSL, Le Speedway and Maniwaki Speedway are all in the same boat and will also have to follow the new directives from the government.

The situation is much the same across Canada, but for Ontario, the decision for an outright ban of all large events for the duration of the summer has not been made, but it would not be surprising that Ontario will follow the same route as Quebec.

Brockville Speedway’s owner Paul Kirkland, however, is more optimistic and recently explained: “We are still positive and hopefully get something going, possibly in May such as practice time. The sooner we get this behind us, » he said, « The sooner we can go dirt track racing.”

Cornwall Motor Speedway has also posted an update on their social media page. “With the current COVID-19 Pandemic that is affecting everyone and with the current recommendations of the Public Health Safety Agency of Canada, the Lavergne family decided to postpone the start of the 2020 season that was scheduled to begin on May 17 until further notice.”

Further west in Ontario, tracks such as Merrittville Speedway, Ohsweken Speedway, Brighton Speedway Park and Humberstone Speedway are also closed.

As for the tracks in the United States that are close to the border and have traditionally attracted drivers and fans from Canada, these may open sooner than later.

What will this pose to racers who are eager to get back to racing regardless of the lockdown here and are willing to cross the border?

Airborne Park Speedway, Mohawk Int. Raceway, Can-Am Speedway, along with Brewerton and Fulton Speedways attract many racers and fans over a typical season. The big question will be for those crossing the border and returning after a night’s racing, will they be required to self-isolated for 14 days? If this is the case, there is no chance for Canadian racers or fans get their yearly dose of racing anytime soon.

So where does this leave us? Is there a probability of having a condensed race season after August 31 or sooner if Ontario relaxes restrictions? Could there be some big events held during the fall which would help tracks?  Well, this will be up to track owners/promoters whether it would be feasible or worth the effort.

What about creating a short four-race series that could have a good payout at the end and the crowning of a series champion. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Even more of a lucrative proposal could be an Ontario/Quebec challenge series that would attract a large contingent of drivers from both areas. The series’ final could be a part of the Brockville Ontario’s Speedway’s Fall Nationals.

At this point, it would appear that thinking out of the box might produce a little glimmer of hope. Take for instance Ohio drag-racing track owner/operator Bill Bader Jr. who is planning to get back to the business of racing. There were plans for about 100 events at the Ohio track, but as Bader explains the track will scale this back to about 18 events along with restrictions of the numbers of fans allowed to view an event.  Of course for everyone who visits the track will need to practice social distancing. As Bader explained about his situation there in Ohio « I don’t know when the stay-at-home order will be lifted, but if I don’t open this year, I am out of business, » he said. “

If someone with a vision of optimism could look at the possibilities, maybe something could be created at least to elevate the blow of what this lockdown has caused on many tracks here in our area and get the racing community back on the track going forward to 2021.

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Don Simpson

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