And now for something completely different. That was a line used years ago by the British comedy show Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
It fits what has happened to sprint car racing the last couple of months.
Back in February, when I was at the Florida tracks for all of the sprint car shows, I never thought that a month later the sport of sprint car racing as we knew it would be stopped cold for 2020, before most of the rest of the country ever got started.
I remember hearing on the news about a virus taking hold in China, but didn’t really pay much attention to it because I never really thought America would have to go through something like that. Plus, I never really watch the news.
Then, the Pennsylvania season started, and a few weeks into March everything got shut down. Most of the country was told to stay at home and away from everyone else. With the long-range prospective for racing looking dim and everyone stuck at home, simulated racing and old reruns of races were all we had.
I was never much of a fan of watching old races, but they become popular when there are no other sports on television. The simulated and game racing is great fun to play, but watching others do it, even if broadcast live on television, just doesn’t cut it.
After many weeks with no real racing, some tracks and series started talking about pay-per-view broadcasts without fans. I couldn’t figure out how a track could support a night of racing without fans, even with pay-per-view broadcasts.
Apparently, it works, though, because quite a few tracks did it and are still doing it. I guess with less people attending races, there are many more paying to view the live broadcasts.
With all of the states having different rules, some tracks have been hosting most of the shows and traveling series started scrapping their early season schedules and booking shows in places they have never been to before.
That has worked out nicely for the fans in those regions because they will get to see many different drivers whom they may otherwise never see race. Plus, many drivers are hitting the road and getting experience at tracks they never would have seen before.
As of this writing, many regions of the country still aren’t racing and a few may have to wait until mid-summer or later. It may take a long time to get back to the way things were when racing stopped in mid-March. Maybe it will never be exactly the same.
Some tracks are operating at 50 percent capacity, with people sitting apart and standing apart in concession lines. Employees wearing masks, and possibly spectators wearing masks. Living here in Florida, wearing a mask for hours in hot weather is next to impossible. It will be tough when the summer weather rolls in.
The weekly shows look like they are going to work out eventually, but how will all of this play out at the major events with thousands of people together? Hopefully, with everything slowly going back, the virus won’t escalate in the next months and by the end of the year people will have come up with a vaccine.
By 2021 we should be good, but the rest of 2020 could be a roller coaster ride of changes.
How much will this change the way sprint car events are actually run in the future? The main thing is to do what you have to do to keep your friends, family and everyone around you safe.