Racing is back at the Red Cedar Speedway in Menomonie.
The track will be back with action this year after the entire 2020 season was canceled amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Red Cedar Racing Association and Dunn County Government officials finalized a plan to allow racing to return beginning this week with Friday evening’s test and tune session for all divisions at the track before the 5th Annual Randy Buss Icebreaker Classic starts the action on April 16.
“We’re really excited,” Red Cedar Racing Association president Mark Thomas said. “We’re thankful that we were able to work out a policy and procedure that will work for everyone involved – the county, the fans and the race teams and us as a race track. It’s been quite a process. It’s understandable with this COVID deal going on but it’s awful exciting to know we’re going to be able to get a chance to run some races this year.”
Discussions between the RCRA began around mid-February as the track started to finalize its plans for the season but Thomas said discussion within the racing organization for the 2021 season began as soon as last year’s schedule was canceled in July.
The allowed attendance for the weekly Friday night races will be determined on the Wednesday before as the number of positive COVID-19 cases from the previous week is analyzed by the county. Depending on the number of average cases per 10,000 per week, the track will have a certain number of tickets it is allowed to sell. No grandstand tickets will be sold if the cases are at five or above but any number below that will allow a certain percentage of tickets to be sold.
For example between four and five would allow for 25 percent attendance or 366 tickets with as many as 1,465 tickets being available if the race is below one. On an average summer night, the grandstands operate at 50 percent capacity or roughly 732 tickets. Race fans can check the Red Cedar Speedway’s website and Facebook page each Wednesday for an official announcement on what the ticket allotment for the week will be.
When capacity is at 50 percent or less, all attendees are required to stay home if sick, practice good hand hygiene, practice social distancing outside of the household and wear a cloth face covering. If the maximum permitted capacity is above 50 percent, all attendees are encouraged to follow those same guidelines.
There will be no attendance limits on competitions or crews as the pits offer plenty of room for teams to practice social distancing, although the track will also encourage following current COVID-19 guidelines like hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing. The RCRA has no plans to adjust payoff as it relates to grandstand attendance and has the goal to race weekly for the posted payoff in each class.
Signage will be posted throughout the facility as it relates to recommended protocols put forth by the CDC and Dunn County Health Department.
Racing in the area began this past weekend and Thomas said the response from the drivers has been good. New clay was recently put down on the racing surface and drivers are excited to get back to Friday night action in Menomonie.
“The response from the race teams has been wonderful,” Thomas said. “They’re looking forward to getting back to the facility. As you can imagine, a lot of the local guys this is their favorite place to race. They’re really looking forward to getting back here and getting racing again on our track and feeling the atmosphere.”