KNOXVILLE, Iowa – On Tuesday afternoon, officials from the Marion County Fair Board and Knoxville Raceway announced the 60th edition of the Knoxville Nationals would not take place until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials have since released a letter to race fans detailing why the decision was made to cancel the event for the 2020 season. That entire letter can be found below.
To our racing family –
We, like all of you, are devastated that the 2020 NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s will not happen this year.
The Knoxville Nationals ARE Knoxville Raceway. This is the event that we plan for, anticipate and look forward to all year long. Not having the event, quite frankly, seems surreal.
From the onset of the COVID pandemic, we thought “if ANY race happens this year, surely it will be the Nationals.” Quickly, reality hit us and we knew we were in for an uphill battle.
Plan B turned into Plan C and somehow got to Plan M (we lost count at some point). We’ve worked hard to keep this event alive – not for us – but for the fans, for the drivers, the team members, the sponsors and this town. We take pride in hosting the Knoxville Nationals every year. In bringing people together and providing a backdrop for lifelong memories.
Up until late last week, we had hope. We presented our final plan to state officials that would at least allow the nearly 12,000 race fans who had already purchased tickets to attend. The plan was not approved. We remain limited to 7,000 spectators at our facility, down from our normal capacity of 20,322. Knowing this, to move forward with the race would mean telling nearly 5,000 fans who had purchased tickets “Thank you, but you cannot attend now.” It would mean telling the 7,000 who could still attend, “Due to social distancing, we have to move your seats and re-ticket you.” It would mean telling the more than 8,000 fans who are accustomed to purchasing their tickets at the ticket office, “We apologize, but you cannot attend this year.” In essence, we would be, in some way, disappointing every one. Our fans are important to us. The show does not go on without you. So without you, the show will not go on.
The pain is somewhat eased, we hope, for the drivers and teams and fans, that with the partnership of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, there will be racing at the Sprint Car Capital of the World that week. The event will be limited to 7,000 spectators. No off-track events, such as the parade, Winged Nation shows, autograph sessions, concerts, turns 3&4 parties, will happen. Like the Nationals, we will have to look forward to all of those in 2021. But, we will have racing. We will see this country’s greatest sprint car drivers battle for the Brownells Capitani Classic presented by Great Southern Bank title and trophy.
To the community of Knoxville, we know this hurts you, too. You all open your homes and your businesses to the racing family each August. We know that you look forward to seeing familiar faces and feeling the energy buzzing through town. You are an equal part of what makes the Knoxville Nationals the most amazing sprint car event in the world. We also know there was concern in the community about the safety and health of its citizens. Your concerns were heard and understood. We want the Knoxville Nationals to happen when everyone feels comfortable to enjoy them.
It is our intention to make the 60th running of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s in 2021 the biggest event yet. We will be ready to welcome more than 23,000 fans from around the world to our race track and make the wait worthwhile. Until then, thank you all for your support this season and throughout this process.
The Marion County Fair Board and Knoxville Raceway