Apr 28, 2020 - Sports

South Dakota race could provide a blueprint for sports' coronavirus restart

Race cars on a track in South Dakota

Photo: Jim Steffens/Getty Images

On Saturday evening in South Dakota, IMCA Racing treated us to Open Wheel Nationals — a real, live sporting event and a sight for sore eyes.

Why it matters: With sports mostly on pause since mid-March, this small, dirt track event in North Sioux City offered a potential blueprint for successfully restarting sporting events across the country.

The state of play: There have been just seven confirmed cases of coronavirus in Park Jefferson International Speedway's county, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem never issued a stay-at-home order, making the circumstances for this event favorable compared to other parts of the country.

  • The stands at the Speedway were empty, and all 64 teams were capped at 10 people, including driver, crew and family.
  • Pit crews were separated by at least 10 feet, masks and temperature checks were required before entering the track and positions were computer generated, eschewing the standard "pill draw" (think: choosing tiles from a Scrabble bag).

What they're saying: NASCAR and IndyCar have postponed their May races, and while they've both attempted to fill the void with iRacing, at least one writer has finally reached his breaking point:

"I can't cover [iRacing] events the same way as real races anymore. It makes me feel a bit guilty to say that, because a lot of people have worked hard to make iRacing on television a suitable replacement for actual racing ... but after four of these things ... I'm sorry. I just can't do it."
— Jeff Gluck, The Athletic

Highlights: Races lasted just a few minutes due to the short track, and were action-packed and highly entertaining.

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