Fan-less races at Martinsville Speedway take financial, emotional toll on local businesses

NASCAR not allowing fans to attend races because of coronavirus

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be different," Peoples gas station cook and cashier Carrie Handy said about the race at Martisnville Speedway on Wednesday.

NASCAR’s 2020 spring stop at Martinsville Speedway will be different both financially and emotionally for Peoples gas station on Greensboro Road near the Speedway.

“As far as missing regular people that we like to see, we care about those people, so we’re not going to see them this year and it’s really sad," said Handy.

She’s hopeful she’ll get to see them when NASCAR returns in the fall. She’s also hopeful some of the extra business race week creates will still happen this week.

“We do a lot of food for public safety, boxes of food for the state troopers," Handy said. "Some Toyota people, we send food to some of those people, too. I’m not sure if we’re going to get any of that business this time. I’m sure will get the public safety.”

At the opposite end of Greensboro Road, Travelodge owner Kenny Patel said the lack of fans makes an already tough situation even tougher.

“We are struggling right now,” said Patel. “When the coronavirus is here, our occupancy is low. We had hoped that when the race comes it will fill up the gap, but that did not happen.”

No fans means a loss of $15,000 to $20,000 in revenue this week. He’s hopeful the fall race will make up for that.

If fans can’t attend that race?

“We will have a problem paying our bills," Patel said.

A sign of the times, perhaps, but so is the return of stock car racing; a sign that maybe a return to normal isn’t far away.