Updated September 18, 2020 - 7:12 pm
The roar of the engines will be reverberating off empty grandstands during the South Point 400 NASCAR playoff race Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
LVMS received word from Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office Friday that it won’t be allowed to have spectators for the race that opens the second round of the NASCAR playoffs, per local and state COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m as disappointed in our governor as I could possibly be,” LVMS president Chris Powell said. “We have worked behind the scenes through every channel we know. I’ve even spoken to the governor. Two Wednesdays ago, I expressed to him how important this was to me and the speedway. He promised that he would get back to me … within 48 hours. He has yet to call me back.”
Powell said LVMS was seeking to allow up to 8,000 spectators — about 10 percent of its capacity — into the speedway for the race. A health and safety plan was submitted four weeks ago, he said.
“As I said to the governor two Wednesdays ago, we would not space people 6 feet apart, we would space groups 20 feet apart,” Powell said. “(Saturday) night in Bristol, Tennessee, there will be 25,000 people that will be able to sit and watch a NASCAR race. In Texas, they’ve had fans; in Daytona, they had fans — so many other speedways.
“We have taken every step imaginable to take into account race fans’ desire to see a race and see it in a safe environment. The hotels are calling us — ‘We want to invite our customers to come to your event, how many can we bring?’ Here we are a destination city and we have a government that is slapping tourists in the face.”
Powell said the decision to allow only essential personnel into the speedway also will mean a loss of “thousands of jobs” during the South Point 400 race weekend that includes NASCAR Xfinity and truck series races.
“Yeah, they might be part-time jobs for most people,” Powell said. “But these are jobs that people depend on, and the fact that we are seven days away from the event, and to be told what not only would I consider the 11th hour but the 59th minute — to have to tell these people that we’re not hiring you because we’re not having any race fans at this event … the frustration level is off the charts.”
A request for a statement from the governor’s office was not answered.
Under the current Nevada reopening plan, fans are not permitted at sporting events or concerts, and groups are limited to 50 people or fewer.
Fans with tickets for the weekend will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.