NASCAR All-Star Race Leaving Charlotte For Only The Second Time
NASCAR and SMI are moving next month’s All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway, in part because of rising coronavirus cases in North Carolina -- marking just the second time the event won’t be held in Charlotte. SMI President & CEO Marcus Smith said that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has green-lit up to 30,000 fans for the race on July 15. That is under 20% capacity for the massive venue that can seat 160,000. Meanwhile, sources said that NASCAR is considering moving numbers to the rear quarter panel of the car for next month's race, as a first-time experiment for the Cup Series. NASCAR's minor-league K&N Series started experimenting with this in '17 to see if it gives sponsors better branding (Adam Stern, SBJ Unpacks).
HAD TO CHANGE: Smith said, "While Charlotte will always be recognized as the birthplace and traditional home for the All-Star Race, the current data surrounding the pandemic in North Carolina makes Bristol a better option for fan access this summer." In Charlotte, Alex Andrejev notes tickets for the race are "already on sale at the Bristol Motor Speedway track website, and include COVID-19 Safety Information and event procedures, such as social distancing in the grandstands and in concession lines, a limited number of guests in suites, restrictions on items permitted inside the venue, as well as closing certain areas of the speedway, such as campground showers and the infield, to fans." Smith said that fans who "previously purchased tickets for the All-Star Race at Charlotte can exchange their tickets to attend the race at Bristol or they can receive a refund by calling the speedway" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/16).
READY TO HOST: Bristol Motor Speedway Exec VP & GM Jerry Caldwell said that "'lots of measures' will be put in place to assure social distancing" at the track. He added, "The beauty of having a facility that can hold 155,000 is that we can put 30,000 people in here and keep them really spread out." More Caldwell: "We’re thrilled and honored to be one of the first major sports to take place with a significant fan presence in our country. We also realize that this opportunity comes with great responsibility to make sure we do it in a safe manner for the industry, the fans and the community" (BRISTOL HERALD COURIER, 6/16).