Nascar is trying to get live sports back on the road.
The racing association, which backs the Nascar Xfinity Series and the Nascar Cup and has rights deals with NBCUniversal and Fox Corp., intends to launch the first of seven races over an 11-day time frame at two different race tracks.
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Nascar said its new debut would take place at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17, and would be held without fans in attendance. The event will be the first on-track race Nascar has held in two months, and will be carried live on Fox. Nascar said its May schedule was also set to include the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend, as well as midweek races in prime time.
The media world is eager to see live sports return. The events continue to reach some of TV’s biggest audiences and command the medium’s costliest ad prices. The NBA and NHL have suspended their current seasons and Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its 2020 calendar.
“Nascar and its teams are eager and excited to return to racing, and have great respect for the responsibility that comes with a return to competition,” said Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer of the association. “Nascar will return in an environment that will ensure the safety of our competitors, officials and all those in the local community.”
The sports association said its executives have worked with public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials to create a plan they believe will ensure the health and safety of competitors and surrounding communities at the above events. All races will follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nascar said no event will include practice sessions, and qualifying trials will only be held for the Coca-Cola 600. Other adjustments include requiring protective equipment, health screenings for all individuals before entering the facility and maintaining social distancing protocols throughout the event.
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