As more and more motorsport series announced their 2021 schedules, I couldn’t help but think they seemed a little ambitious in thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic would have subsided. And it turns out that wasn’t a misguided thought—NASCAR has already placed attendance caps on the 2021 Daytona 500, its first race of the year.
The season-opening event is scheduled to take place on February 14, 2021, and tickets have already been sold. There’s also not an exact number on how many fans will be able to attend at the moment, but grandstand capacity is over 100,000 with thousands of others able to watch from the infield.
First priority will likely be given to fans who have already bought a ticket, but many fans will also probably be reseated to ensure adequate social distancing. As has been protocol since NASCAR resumed racing in May, everyone entering the track will go through temperature screening.
From Daytona International Speedway president Chip Wile:
The Daytona 500 is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, and fans from all over the world converge in Daytona Beach to be a part of motorsport’s biggest day.
While we won’t be able to have a capacity crowd here in February, we are excited that we can host the Daytona 500 with those in attendance, as well as for the millions who will tune in live on Fox.
The ‘Great American Race’ will once again have the aura and atmosphere that fans have come to know and love. From the pageantry of our pre-race festivities to the rumble of 40 engines roaring around the high banks, it’s the biggest stage in motorsports.
The whole situation doesn’t bode particularly well for American racing—although many folks were right in expecting this would be the case. The pandemic has yet to appreciably slow down enough for folks to get back to the track the way they were able to in the past—which, honestly, sucks. The husband and I were playing around with the idea of hitting both the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 this year, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Let’s hope that all we have are attendance caps, though, and not cancelled or drastically rescheduled races.