The ARCA Menards Series, like other NASCAR divisions, has had many of its events postponed the past two months due to the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the country. 5 Flags Speedway, a half-mile oval in Pensacola, Fla., was one of those casualties on the 2020 schedule.
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The racetrack was slated to host its first ARCA Menards Series East event since 2014. The race was originally supposed to be run on March 14. However, this race was one of five postponed until further notice (no NASCAR division is scheduled to race until at least the weekend of May 9).
Frontstretch reached out to 5 Flags Speedway to discuss the COVID-19 situation and struggles. Like other racetracks suffering through track postponements, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to when – or if – the green flag will fall on their 2020 commitments.
“While we are exploring potential make-up dates, we are on hold until we know when things can get restarted,” said Tim Bryant, General Manager of 5 Flags Speedway. “It’s very difficult to find a date that works equally well for the tracks, the competitors, and NASCAR. NASCAR has been very helpful in this regard. ”
ARCA is no different than some of NASCAR’s other divisions in exploring unique ways to run a condensed schedule. Midweek races and events without fans are just two of several options being considered.
But for smaller divisions like ARCA, no ticketing and concessions revenue would be devastating for the tracks they run at.
“A race without fans doesn’t work with our business model unless some form of extra sponsorship could be procured,” Bryant explained. “A mid-week race could be considered, but it would have to be a summer date. Ultimately, it has to work for the fans who have pre-purchased tickets, and the competitors.”
This unique, unheard-of situation is one track promoters, competitors and others involved in the racing community are adjusting to on a daily basis. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in the sport and rescheduling, Bryant explained, may ultimately be out of their hands no matter what plan they put in place.
“Scheduling decisions will be made with all parties involved being considered,” he said. “While we will make every effort to set a date as soon as possible, we are currently in a situation under which we have no control. We’re monitoring guidelines set by federal, state, and local authorities.”
Countless other racetracks are going through the same daily routine as 5 Flags Speedway. There’s a lot of problem-solving going on; what they’ve yet to discover is an actual solution to get engines fired and the green flag flying on their half-mile oval once again.