KERCHNER: What To Expect When Racing Returns

Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner.

CONCORD, N.C. — Most of us have never lived through anything like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of you likely have memories of World War II and its impact on your lives, but for most of us, we have little with which to compare these strange days.

By now, we are all familiar with the restrictions that have been placed on our lives in an effort to combat the disease. And, as race fans and in many cases motorsports professionals, we know all too well about the number of events that have been canceled or postponed and the sense of uncertainty all of this gives us in regard to the future.

Many in the industry are taking drastic measures to protect businesses in an effort to ensure all aspects of racing are ready to roll and prosper when the green light blinks on again.

Historically speaking, there are very few times in history when motorsports has been interrupted.

Racing was stopped during World War I and was impacted by the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. But there was little racing compared to today.

World War II brought a halt to all normalcy and racing was banned from 1942 until Aug. 16, 1945.

The fuel crisis slowed the motorsports industry in 1973, with some races canceled and many shortened in an effort to conserve oil and gasoline.

Finally, motorsports was greatly impacted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but not all racing was canceled and things were mostly back at full strength within a two-week period.

During the dark days of World War II, SPEED SPORT’s predecessor, National Speed Sport News, continued to publish on a monthly basis, providing motorsports news and a look back at racing in better times.

We’ve done the same with, keeping readers up to date on all racing news, including that related to the coronavirus.

While the types of motorsports content we provide may vary during this time, our commitment to being your source for motorsports news has not swayed.

Hopefully, by the time you are reading this, we’re on the back end of the coronavirus outbreak, the restrictions placed upon society have eased and racing is again firing up.

When racing returns, there will be a lot of interesting things to see.

– Rescheduling will be fascinating, particularly when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series.

Sanctioning body president Steve Phelps has maintained that all 36 races scheduled will be run. As of this writing, seven NASCAR Cup Series weekends had been postponed, with the series planning to return to action May 9 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

With a desire not to impact the 10-race playoffs, which run Sept. 6 to Nov. 8 and only two off weekends available, the sanctioning body will have to be creative in making up the postponed events. Doubleheaders and midweek races are possibilities.

For years, midweek races have been talked about as being important to NASCAR’s future. This is the perfect opportunity to test the waters.

– Further complicating matters for NASCAR, Supercross, IndyCar, NHRA, IMSA and others will be the crowded sports scene that will follow this crisis.

With Major League Baseball, the NHL and the NBA, among other sports leagues, all altering their schedules, television windows on the networks will be few and far between.

– With Monster Energy AMA Supercross officials hoping to complete a 17-race schedule, it is quite possible the Supercross and motocross seasons will overlap with Supercross competing on off weekends for motocross.

– Next to racing, football is my favorite sport, but I was appalled by the NFL proceeding with its feeding frenzy known as free agency.

Learning about a 40-year-old quarterback getting a $25 million per year contract during a time when most folks were dipping into their reserves in order to survive, left a sour taste in my mouth.

– When racing does get back into action, it’s going to be busier than ever and the season looks to last deep into the fall, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans reset for September, the 12 Hours of Sebring moving to November, and many other events still to be rescheduled.

– While at this writing the COVID-19 battle remained a fluid situation, the traditional Memorial Day weekend races, including the 61st Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, were shaping up to be even more important to the racing world than in a normal year.

Now, the Indianapolis 500 has been officially postponed to late August.

– We thank everyone for supporting SPEED SPORT in print, online and through our newest venture, We wish good health to all, and remind you to support your local businesses, including race tracks and racers.

See you next month.