RIDGEWAY, Va – When NASCAR drivers start their engines at the Martinsville Speedway this year, a small number of fans will be there to cheer them on thanks to relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday he will allow up to 1,000 fans at outdoor entertainment events, including NASCAR races in Martinsville. The rules take effect before a tripleheader of Martinsville races from April 8-10.
In a statement to 10 News, Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said:
“We are encouraged by today’s announcement on the increase in limited fan capacity for entertainment venues across the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are grateful for Governor Ralph Northam and his administration’s leadership as we follow the state’s pathway to welcome limited fans back to Martinsville Speedway.
We understand the importance of our role as venue operators, so we are working diligently to provide a safe race experience as we welcome back fans to our facility. We look forward to continuing to support our community as a mass vaccination site as we take another step forward in getting Henry County back to regular life in the future.”Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway President
Local business owners are also anticipating the fans’ return to the race track.
“We lost good money last year,” said Kenny Patel, who owns the Travelodge Hotel on Route 220 near the speedway. “The economy lost because a lot of restaurants hurt and a lot of motels hurt.”
“We’re a small, family-owned business,” said Jerry DeGiovanni of Jerry’s Pizza, which is located just north of Patel’s Travelodge. “Every little bit counts, whether it’s one customer or a hundred.”
Patel said he has already reserved more than half of the hotel’s rooms for the first race weekend.
“A lot of people want to stay over here because we’re very close to the race track,” Patel said. “We want to see the economy coming back. When a lot of people lose, the economy gets worse and worse.”
In addition to the races in April, Martinsville Speedway also has races scheduled during Halloween weekend.