ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Alamance County government officials said they were puzzled by Governor Roy Cooper’s comments regarding ACE Speedway.
Gov. Cooper stated, "I hope and pray that no one gets sick or even dies from that gathering," while referring to the race event held over the weekend.
"It is dangerous and reckless to try and draw a crowd," Gov. Cooper stated during the news conference.
Alamance County leaders said they sent a letter to the governor on April 20, requesting a regional approach to reopening. They also asked for local governments to participate in the decision making.
They also said they repeatedly reached out to Gov. Cooper and the NC Department of Health and Human Services for guidance in how to assist ACE Speedway to operate in a safe manner.
The NCDHHS said it proactively reached out to ACE Speedway on May 8 in partnership with Alamance County leaders. The NCDHHS said they shared a plan that was developed in partnership with Catawba County Public Health and Hickory Motor Speedway to run an event without fans.
The NCDHHS said they strongly encouraged them to plan an event without spectators or wait until the details of phase 2 were determined before proceeding with plans for an event with fans.
Alamance County leaders said a conference call was held on May 11, with Jason Turner of ACE Speedway, and Matt Gross, the Assistant Secretary for Government Affairs at the NC Department of Health and Human Services to discuss how ACE Speedway could safely operate under Phase 2. They also said a document entitled, “Precaution Requirements for ACE Speedway” was developed through collaboration between NCDHHS, the Alamance County Health Department, and ACE Speedway.
NCDHHS said it drafted two sets of plans that the Alamance Public Health Department drafted based on the Hickory Motor Speedway.
NCDHHS released the following information about the plans:
"The first was drafted and distributed by the Alamance County Health Department with multiple people including Jason Turner and Sherriff Johnson and clearly states at the top, 'NOTE: Event is tentative and contingent on the Governor’s announcement to execute Phase 2 of reopening. Limits on participant capacity have yet to be determined. When determined, ACE is expected to adhere to the capacity limitation set by the Governor.'"
The second document was shared on May 20. This was also drafted and shared by the Alamance County Health Department with multiple people including Jason Turner, Sherriff Johnson and Clyde Albright and clearly states at the top, “Per Governor Executive Order 141, spectator attendance cannot exceed 25 participants.”
On a May 23 call, NCDHHS said it repeatedly advised that Ace Speedway needed to adhere to the 25 spectator limit.
Other tracks and NASCAR have partnered with NCDHHS and held successful events without fans and without defying the Executive Order, said NCDHHS officials.
Alamance County said it investigated the precautions taken at ACE Speedway and verified the following:
- 2550 spectators on a 50-acre property (approximately 50% of fire capacity)
- Rosters for contact tracing were provided
- 10-feet distance between each car in the pit area
- Recommended masks and 6-feet social distancing in the pit area
- Multiple hand sanitizer stations provided
- Precaution signage
- Plexiglas partitions where appropriate
- Marks of 6-feet of spacing in lines and high traffic areas
- One-way arrows for traffic through the restrooms
- Public announcements every 30 minutes to remind spectators to social distance and wash hands
- Restrooms and other public areas sanitized regularly and limits on the number of people in the infield and outfield.
Alamance County leaders said they still haven't received a response from the Governor’s Office.
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