Two weeks ago NASCAR returned to racing after a lengthy hiatus due to the international spread and subsequent breakdown of society caused by the covid-19 virus. Now Barstool-sponsored Stewart-Haas Ford driver Clint Bowyer is whining about how its not as fun to race without fans in the stands, and has unilaterally decided that it is time to bring them back. Health risks be damned.
The virus has consumed the American way of life over the course of the last three months, infecting nearly two million in this country with 106,000 dead and climbing. The American people have done very little to stop the spread of the virus, and we’re already done trying. As a country we collectively decided to lock down in mid-March when there were around 5,000 new cases per day. Now we’ve just resigned ourselves to accepting 20,000 plus new cases per day as the new normal. It’s worth the risk because we want haircuts. Or to go to NASCAR races.
It does well to mention that states eager to ‘reopen’, to get back to normal, are all experiencing their highest daily reports of new coronavirus cases. Texas, for example, reported almost 2,000 new cases yesterday, with South Carolina reporting 500, and North Carolina reporting 1,000.
“It’s starting to bother me,” Bowyer said Sunday night, as reported by Motorsport.com. “We’re starting to see other racing, people in the stands, everything else. This is such a special place.
“You’re starting to see racing going on with fans in the stands, (with) social distancing, stuff like that. A place like Bristol – honestly, it’s the first time I really felt like, ‘Man, it’s empty.’ Kind of felt that empty feeling where even racing out there, you can feel the vibe.”
“That deal with (Elliott) and (Logano), you get out of the car right there and this place would have been standing on end. It would have erupted,” he said. “Without that, it’s kind of like, ‘Well, I guess we’ll go home.’
“I’m ready to have fans back is what I’m saying. I think it’s time.”
You’re right Clint, NASCAR’s events just don’t have the same vibe without tens of thousands of screaming fans in the stands. Those fans should be sitting in close quarters, shouting their lungs out not only in cheering, but in attempts to talk to each other over the sound of the race, according to Mr. Bowyer. While Clint has 10 wins to his name in NASCAR’s top Cup class, he has exactly as many epidemiology degrees as he has championships.
Some states have begun relaxing coronavirus-instigated restrictions on businesses, including some allowing open air events be run with a limited number of people in attendance. These last two weeks, however, NASCAR has been running in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee, which have not yet begun to allow spectator events on the scale of a NASCAR race.
NASCAR’s current schedule—which runs through the next three weeks, and sees races in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and Alabama—does not allow for any of these events to run with fans in the stands. No other series have jumped back into racing as of yet, with NASCAR being the lone guinea pig in this macabre experiment.
Most of the racers on the grid are ecstatic to be back to racing, saying that running without fans is better than not running at all. Bowyer, however, yearns for the right vibes. There is an old saying about beggars and choosers. It’s not coming to mind right now, though.