NASCAR became the first major US sport to emerge from its coronavirus-induced absence in South Carolina yesterday.
The 400 NASCAR Cup Series auto race, which took place at the Darlington Raceway, was the first of seven events scheduled over the next 11 days.
NASCAR had been out of action for over two months, with the last race prior to this weekend’s event taking place on 8th March.
A number of protocols were adhered to, including the absence of spectators in the stands.
Not your ordinary event
Only a selection of track, team and medical personnel were permitted to enter the venue for yesterday’s race. Prior to being granted entry, everybody was subjected to temperature checks. Face masks were also obligatory for drivers and all other individuals involved.
While fans weren’t allowed to enter the arena, a number did soak up the atmosphere outside instead. For example, some individuals rented houses across from the track so they could be nearby.
Kevin Harvick finished ahead of the chasing pack to record his 50th career victory. Although glad to be back, he admitted that the atmosphere was somewhat strange.
“I just want to thank everybody from NASCAR and all the teams for letting us do what we do.
“I didn’t think it was going to be that different, then we won and it’s dead silent out here. We miss the fans.”
More to come
NASCAR has six more races that will take place between today (May 18th) and May 28th. Tomorrow, the Darlington Raceway is again going to be used – this time for an Xfinity Series race. And then, on Wednesday, it will host another NASCAR Series event.
Other racetracks in the US will also be used from next week. Charlotte Motor Speedway will be the stage for two NASCAR series races next Monday and Thursday. Sandwiched in-between those on May 25th and 26th will be Xfinity Series and Gander Truck events.
Light at the end of the tunnel for sports betting?
Across the world, lockdowns are beginning to be eased and sports are slowly being allowed to resume. This is particularly the case in Europe. German soccer has been allowed to return in the form of the country’s top two leagues – the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga – behind closed doors.
Horse racing has also restarted in the EU’s largest country, as it has in France. The same sport will resume in Ireland from June 8th. Again, these are all with – or will be – without spectators inside respective venues.
Land-based casinos also beginning to reopen in the US
In South Dakota, casinos in Deadwood were allowed to reopen their doors over the weekend just gone. Venues enjoyed significant business on its return, which Liv Hospitality CEO Caleb Arceneaux believes is due to people being happy to get out of the house.
He said the following.
“We were about 15% or 20% higher than a typical weekend business, which is significant.
“Cabin fever’s real, and I think people wanted to get out and experience, you know, gaming again.”
Liv Hospitality is part of a family-run business. It owns and operates Tin Lizzie Gaming Resort and Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, as well as four Deadwood hotels.
Capacity was around 85 – 90%, with many players driving into South Dakota from bordering states.