CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - NASCAR is moving their 2020 All-Star Race from Charlotte, N.C. to Bristol, Tenn. due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina.
The 36th running of the All-Star Race will move 159 miles northwest from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway, for the first time.
Speedway Motorsports officials cited the rising number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina as the reason for the move. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Sullivan County officials have reportedly allowed for up to 30,000 fans at the All-Star Race in Bristol.
At least 45,102 people have now tested positive for the coronavirus in North Carolina since March 3, while 1,118 have died. Tennessee’s total coronavirus case count is at 31,160, while 483 people have died in that state.
The July 15 race will include fans in attendance at a Speedway Motorsports facility for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The NASCAR All-Star Race is an event known for making history, and we will enhance that legacy by hosting the event at Bristol Motor Speedway,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “While Charlotte will always be recognized as the birthplace and traditional home for the All-Star Race, the current data surrounding the pandemic in North Carolina makes Bristol a better option for fan access this summer."
Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns both Charlotte and Bristol race tracks.
“North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state health officials have played a significant role in getting NASCAR back on track by allowing the race teams to go to work and allowing Charlotte Motor Speedway to host the Coca-Cola 600. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Sullivan County officials have allowed for up to 30,000 fans at the All-Star Race in Bristol. We’re grateful for the continued support from both governors and all the state and local officials as we work with NASCAR to bring fans back to live sporting events. Bristol will no doubt put on a show worthy of the spectacle that the NASCAR All-Star Race has become known for, and we look forward to the challenge that the World’s Fastest Half-Mile promises to deliver,” Smith stated.
This year’s all-star event marks just the second time it has been run at a facility other than Charlotte Motor Speedway, joining Atlanta Motor Speedway, which hosted the event in 1986.
“We are excited to take one of the most unique races in our sport to one of the most unique race tracks in our sport,” said NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Development Steve O’Donnell. “Bristol Motor Speedway puts on classic short-track action every time we race there, and we’re anticipating an elevated level of intensity for the NASCAR All-Star Race. We appreciate the great collaboration with Marcus Smith and his team, and all the race teams, in making this move. We look forward to bringing this thrilling race to a short track for the first time, and we hope our fans enjoy this special event, under the lights.”
“Bristol Motor Speedway’s modified event procedures, protocols and number of attendees will be finalized with continued guidance from public health officials, medical experts, local, state and federal officials, and in coordination with NASCAR,” a press release read.
After doubt that the race would be canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR officials previously said the race would be run in Charlotte on Wednesday, July 15, with no immediate decision on fan attendance.
The All-Star race was to be part of a triple-header at the Speedway, including the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150 and the All-Star Open.
The format for this year’s All-Star Race will be announced at a later date. Plans for the ARCA General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway are still to be determined.