As each sport begins a new season, they must also address a number of issues including Covid-19 protocols, whether or not to allow fans at the events, and if so how many.

While the NASCAR racing teams gear up for a new season, officials have released the guidelines under which teams and potential spectators must follow during racing events.

Last season after a two month hiatus NASCAR returned with no fans and some very strict protocols for team members to follow while at the track…and at their racing shops.

Many of those protocols remain in effect for the 2021 season; but with a few changes.

NASCAR reports that whether fans will be allowed at racing events and how many will be allowed will depend on local health and safety regulations in the cities where the races are being held.

With the virus raging in California and strict protocols involving crowds, the race at the Auto Club Speedway has already been cancelled and has been replaced by a road course race at Daytona.  In a NASCAR first, the season will begin in Daytona for the first two weeks and will see a third race later in the season to close out the regular racing season.

NASCAR vice president of racing operations John Bobo noted that, “we continue to try to put as many tools as possible in the protocol tool box.” 

Bobo added, “toward the end of last year, we started doing a lot of rapid antigen testing as part of a secondary screenings for people coming into the track and that will continue.  We continue to emphasise with the drivers that we need rapid reporting of COVID-19 results so we can contract trace as well. We will continue to do the things we know will work.”

Mandated masks and screenings prior to entering the track, social distancing, a limiting the number of crew members at the track and at the shops, and repercussions for rule violations will continue.  Positive testing protocols for drivers and team personnel will also continue where they may not return to the track/team facilities until after two negative tests 24 hours apart and have been cleared by their personal physician.

“Not only do you need to wear a mask, you need to wear a good mask and double the mask if you can,” said Bobo.

However, NASCAR has amended the rule relating to track personnel quotas.  This season one owner and one public relations person will be allowed at the track.  Teams with multiple cars will be allowed one PR rep per car.

Allowing for outbreaks, restrictions, and any number of changes; NASCAR has numerous “backup plans” that will allow them to continue the season.  NASCAR vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell noted, “if anything, we learned to be really nimble.”