BULLS GAP, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee is continuing forward in the reopening of the region. With every phase comes new guidelines as well as updates to previous ones. This past week, the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group released a more recent set of guidelines pertaining to the opening of attractions and large venues.
According to the latest guidelines, attractions and large venues pertain to any venue, whether it be indoor or outdoor, facility, or place of interest which offers leisure, amusement, or entertainment activities, which include performing arts centers, sports venues, and speedways.
After receiving word of these updated, and less restrictive guidelines, the staff at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap got to work, making sure they had everything in place to host the first official race of the year.
“It’s been around the clock, 24 hours a day for the last 7 days preparing for it. We knew we were going to get back to racing soon but just didn’t know it’d be that quick, but we’re not complaining about that issue,” said Owner of Volunteer Speedway, Landon Stallard.
In just one week, the team at Volunteer Speedway was able to organize a race featuring 5 classes of cars and all the other fun that comes with a night out at the speedway, but it won’t be quite the same.
“All of our staff is going to wear a mask, and gloves at the concessions. We kind of went down the list of the guidelines that the Governor handed to us. We can seat 4,000 people but we’re only going to sell 2,000 tickets,” said Stallard.
The stadium will be only at half capacity, with hand sanitizing stations, staff in masks and gloves, and even race teams stationed at least 6 feet apart. While there are a number of significant changes, Stallard feels they’ve made it as safe as possible.
However, other large venues who are also allowed to open don’t feel the same. News Channel 11 reached out to officials at Freedom Hall in Johnson City and the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville who say they feel these guidelines just don’t work for indoor venues.
Both venues told News Channel 11 they are waiting to open and do not have events even scheduled for a few months.
However, for Stallard and other racing fans, he says the wait is over. Normally they have their first race of the year in late March, but due to COVID-19, that race was cancelled and Friday, May 22nd will be the first official race of the year. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the race set to start at 7 p.m.
Stallard expressed his concerns regarding rain and said delays are possible but he plans to still put on a race and bring racing back to life. “I don’t think that we should have waited this long to open back up because it put a hurting on businesses such as ours,” he said.
On top of their heightened safety measures, Stallard also wants to remind fans to be responsible and practice these safety measures on their own to help keep their environment as safe as possible for everyone.