Dover Speedway helps community while preparing for NASCAR races
The staff at Dover International Speedway is racing to prepare for NASCAR and other events with whatever restrictions are in place.
“Our Aug. 21-23 NASCAR tripleheader weekend is going to be run as scheduled, featuring the Drydene 400 NASCAR Cup Series race,” said Speedway President Mike Tatoian.
Meanwhile, the staff has opened the facility to help with food giveaways, donation drives and coronavirus testing.
Tatoian answered questions about the changes he and his staff have faced and the plans to return to racing.
How have the coronavirus restrictions affected Dover International Speedway?
The biggest impact has been in the postponement of our May 1-3 NASCAR tripleheader weekend and the cancellation of the Firefly Music Festival in June.
We are working closely with NASCAR on the rescheduled dates for our May 1-3 races and continue to keep our fans updated on the latest news and information regarding our racing schedule.
In place of on-track events, Dover entered the world of virtual racing on Sunday, May 3 with the eNASCAR Finish Line 150, iRacing Pro Invitational Series event, won by NASCAR Cup Series star William Byron.
Almost 1 million viewers tuned in across FOX channels to watch NASCAR stars tackle the one-mile, high-banked concrete oval, which was developed with help from Speedway personnel. Fox Sports analyst Jeff Gordon, a five-time Dover winner in the Cup Series, said Dover was “the most realistic” of the iRacing tracks run to that point.
How have you adjusted to the changes?
The whole world of sports and entertainment has had to adjust to basically having business as usual halted for more than two months.
Aside from landscaping and grounds maintenance crews, our staff of approximately 40-50 full-time employees has primarily worked remotely since mid-March.
We’ve all become very accustomed to online meetings and we look forward to getting back to a sense of normal soon.
The first step in that process for NASCAR took place on Sunday, May 17, with the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Speedway, which drew more than 6 million viewers and was the highest-rated sports television program last week. NASCAR and Fox Sports did a phenomenal job with the event, both from a safety and a production standpoint.
What steps are you taking to prepare for reopening?
Our top priority is the safety of our guests and competitors when they visit Dover International Speedway.
We are planning for our Aug. 21-23 races to be run with fans, but will be prepared if changes are required through consultations with local health officials and our state government, as well as NASCAR.
Our team is also working through several scenarios in the event that only a limited number of fans are allowed on the property with social distancing restrictions in place. If those restrictions are set, we will certainly be communicating best practices and procedures to our fans in a timely manner.
What success stories can you share about what’s working despite the changes?
We’re proud that Dover International Speedway has once again proven to be a community focal point during this time.
In partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Monster Mile has hosted three food distribution events for families in need since March, providing items such as milk, vegetables and bread to more than 5,800 area households.
The Speedway’s Fan Care Center has also been utilized by Bayhealth Medical Center and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency for drive-thru COVID-19 testing and a distribution site for personal protective equipment such as gloves, helmets, goggles and clothing.
Since April, the famous Monster Monument at Victory Plaza has been lit blue in the evening and overnight hours to honor our first responders and health care workers who on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight every day.