Governor threatens action against track that allowed fans

Ace Speedway Motorsports (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
Ace Speedway Motorsports (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images) /

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper threatened action against Ace Speedway, which held a motorsports event with fans as a “peaceful protest”.

Hundreds of thousands if not millions of protesters having taken to the streets across the United States in recent weeks to protest police brutality and racial injustice, despite public health guidelines restricting mass gatherings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of the tolerance to these kinds of mass gatherings while most other gatherings are still prohibited, Ace Speedway decided to defy North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s ban on outdoor gatherings of more than 25 individuals.

They did so by holding a Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour race as a “peaceful protest”, and the Altamahaw, North Carolina track has now hosted races with fans on three consecutive weekends.

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A sign outside of the track, which seats roughly 4,500 people, read: “This event is held in peaceful protest of injustice and inequality everywhere.”

After more than 2,000 fans showed up to the 0.4-mile (0. 644-kilometer) oval for this “peaceful protest” race, the Democratic governor threatened to take action if Alamance County officials do not.

Here is what Governor Cooper had to say about Ace Speedway hosting these events with fans and about potential penalties for doing so, according to NBC Sports.

"“People shouldn’t run a money-making operation that puts in danger not only their customers but anybody who would come into contact with their customers. This is a reckless decision being made by the owners, pulling people together in that way that can cause the spread of the (coronavirus) virus.“Alamance County (home of the track) is one of the counties that is having higher numbers than it should have. We look forward to taking some action on this in the coming week. It’s concerning that Alamance officials have not been able to stop this. We would hope that they could. But if they can’t, then the state will have to take action, which we will do this week if the local officials don’t.”"

Jason Turner, who co-owns Ace Speedway along with his father, Robert, stated that the track staff ensured all guidelines were followed, including taking each fan’s temperature prior to entry, taking down information to send to the health department for contact tracing purposes, and enforcing social distancing.

Robert had previously been very outspoken about allowing fans at his track, stating that “unless they can barricade the road, I’m going to do it.” Here is what he had to say a few weeks ago, according to Times-News.

"“I’m going to race and I’m going to have people in the stands. And unless they can barricade the road, I’m going to do it. The racing community wants to race. They’re sick and tired of the politics. People are not scared of something that ain’t killing nobody. It may kill .03 percent, but we deal with more than that every day, and I’m not buying it no more.“I’ve got a business to run and a job to do, and when I can’t run my business and I can’t go to my job and make a full paycheck, I’m in jail already. So getting behind bars does not scare me. I’m going to speak my piece, and we’re going to do something.”"

Here is what Jason had to say earlier this week when asked about Governor Cooper’s statement, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

"“I’ve been too busy, to be honest. All I know is we had another good night of racing and folks came in and enjoyed themselves and then went home. So I have no complaints with how it’s been going on the operational end.”"

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson stated that he would not be issuing a citation.

"“I have found through research and contacts with other sheriffs in the state, that numerous speedways and go cart tracks ran this weekend in North Carolina with no action being taken on those owners or even warnings given. This concerns me greatly to know that my citizens have basically been singled out for the same alleged violations that are occurring all over the state of North Carolina.”"

From a health perspective, Sheriff Johnson also likened the event to Governor Cooper marching with a crowd of protesters with his mask down just last week.

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The plan is for Ace Speedway to host more races this Saturday, June 13 with fans in attendance once again. It remains to be seen whether or not Governor Cooper will get in the way of those plans.