Fans are returning to the Montezuma County Speedway, despite a Colorado health order that prohibits large gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But race promoter Gene Felker believes having limited fans in the grandstands of an outdoor facility can be done safely with proper precautions.
“Just look, everyone is spread out, families are enjoying racing again on a summer night,” he said during the June 6 races at the county fairgrounds. “People are wearing masks, we are outdoors after all.”
About 120 fans attended night races June 6 in the 1,000-seat capacity grandstands, Felker said. He planned to cap it at 200 fans. The next races are June 19-20, and fans again are invited.
Regarding allowing fans in defiance of a state health order, Felker said, “I guess I’m having my own protest tonight. I believe I am doing it the right way, the safe way.”
He emphasized that safety precautions were implemented because of the coronavirus. Signs about the rules were posted throughout the facility.
Face masks were required for fans, racers and pit crews, with exceptions. Groups that arrived together could sit together in the stands and in the private pit areas without masks. People who left their group were required to wear masks.
Social distancing was required between groups and between individuals. No handshaking was allowed. At the check-in and ticket booth names and addresses were recorded, and temperatures were taken. Tickets were discounted to $5, half the regular price.
“I support Gene getting the races back on, it’s great for the community,” said Duane Frandsen. “It’s nice to take the family to this track and get away from the crowds of Moab.”
He recently returned to racing after taking 24 years off for a career and to raise a family. His grandkids watched him race from the stands.
People came from Aztec, Farmington and Moab to watch the races.
“We’re filling up hotel rooms, buying a lot of gas. We’re shopping in the area,” Felker said. “Our races are very family friendly.”
Earlier this season, he held races at the fairgrounds, but without fans, which is permitted under Colorado health orders.
Felker, who operates the racetrack under a lease with the county, said he depends on fan revenue for the business. Regarding allowing fans, the Montezuma County commissioners did not object, and said that as the operator, Felker has the freedom to run his business as he sees fit.
Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin said the county and state health departments are responsible for enforcing public health orders. The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Posse provided security for the event.
For race results, go to myracepass.com