Speedway Miramichi is today unveiling their yellow phase COVID-19 operational plan, a plan which would permit the start of the 38th consecutive season of operation for the 52 year old facility, contingent on the Government of New Brunswick permitting gatherings of 50 people. Should this gathering size be implemented by provincial authorities on schedule, the 2020 season will kick-off on Saturday June 20th with no fans in attendance and no more than 50 people on the premises at a time.
With the regulations governing the opening of facilities during the pandemic, Speedway Miramichi will be transitioning operations from that of a sports entertainment venue to a recreation facility. This will require a unique style of operation which would permit drivers to compete for leisure, with no prizes being up for grabs while restrictions prevent the opening of grandstands to some capacity. Ideas utilized will follow those of other outdoor recreation facilities which have re-opened, such as golf courses.
Following the original schedule, the Mini Stock, Street Stock, and Demolition classes will be on the card for the opening event. However, additional classes may be added depending on driver interest and time considerations. The current plan allows for each car to be accompanied by the driver and one crew member; additional crew members may be permitted depending on the number of entries in each respective division. With the emphasis and focus being entirely on drivers due to the closure of the grandstands, this will allow flexibility in the schedule to accommodate longer pit stops and other breaks to compensate for fewer crew members.
In brief, several restrictions and regulations will be in place for this event and any going forward for the duration of the yellow phase. Similar to a golf course, each division will have a “tee time,” a 2-3 hour time slot which will include technical inspection, a practice session, and a pair of features for stock car drivers. The line-up for the first feature will be determined by a random draw, with the grid for the second feature being an invert of the first feature. Feature lengths are expected to be in the range of 25-40 laps. For Demolition competitors, at least 2-4 preliminary events and a Demolition Derby finale can be expected. Due to the flexibility allowed by having no fans in the stands, and hence no rush to get the show in, these plans are subject to change depending on driver input. As mentioned, the restrictions preventing the grandstands from opening mean no prizes can be given out to race winners at this time, meaning all races will be contested for fun and bragging rights.
There will be strict procedures to follow for those in attendance in accordance with the Emergency Measures Act, with unprecedented safety measures off the track accompanying the usual ones on the track. Upon entry, temperature checks and screening for symptoms and isolation requirements will be conducted for all. After passing through the entry checkpoint, each team will be given a designated pit stall, with pit stalls will be spaced out such that every second pit stall will be empty. In addition, everyone will be required to wear a mask and practice physical distancing when they leave their pit stall, except when competing on the track. Additional procedures will be communicated with those planning on attending.
All those wishing to compete in any division must register and pay in advance – both driver and crew member. Should divisions be expected to compete under capacity, multiple divisions may share a time slot, or additional crew members may be permitted. The entry fee will be $20 per person. Anyone who is not pre-registered and pre-paid will not be permitted entry into the facility. With the gathering limit expected to be 50 people, this would limit each division to a capacity of approximately 20 cars, accounting for one driver and one crew member accompanying every car, as well as essential staff and personnel. Drivers can register for both themselves and their crew member on the Speedway Miramichi website under the “COVID-19” page. Those who register will receive a confirmation email with information on how to pay. No spots will be guaranteed until payment is received.
With other tracks remaining closed throughout the province, we encourage drivers from all divisions to register if they are interested in competing. If there is driver interest and ample time, management would consider adding additional divisions to give drivers the opportunity to turn some laps while their home tracks are shut down.
While no fans will be permitted in attendance until the gathering limit of 50 is increased, all events will be recorded and uploaded online for the viewing pleasure of fans.
With the situation in New Brunswick being everchanging, this plan can be expected to change before race day. Speedway Miramichi’s COVID-19 Operational Plan will be communicated with all planning on attending. It will be everyone’s responsibility to be familiar with this document.
All this is contingent on the Government of New Brunswick permitting gatherings of 50 or more under the yellow phase, which is expected to be announced as early as this Friday. In the event Region 7, the Miramichi region, returns to the orange phase, no events can be held but the track would remain operational for rentals and testing for groups less than 10. A transition to the red phase would force the facility to close operations for the duration of that phase.
Speedway Miramichi thanks all the drivers and fans for their patience as we continue to navigate this unprecedented era. We look forward to getting some action on the track soon!