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NC Court Sides With Health Officials Over Opening Of Ace Speedway

Speedway (stock)
Frank Fujimoto/Creative Commons

A North Carolina stock car racetrack must remain closed and propose a new social distancing plan after a judge sided with health officials in an effort to curb the coronavirus spread.

Superior Court Judge D. Thomas Lambeth Jr. agreed with health officials who said large gatherings at the Ace Speedway in Alamance County could contribute to an increase spread of COVID-19, news outlets reported.

The Wednesday ruling continues to put an injunction on Ace, which requires the track to close and stop operations.

Chuck Kitchen, an attorney for Ace Speedway, said the track will seek an appeal.

The initial injunction, from June 11, came after the speedway defied restrictions on large crowds implemented to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 restrictions caps outdoor crowds at 25 people.

The speedway opened on May 23 with more than 2,500 spectators.

A crowd of roughly 2,000 attended a race on June 6, when the speedway posted a sign saying the race was being held “in peaceful protest of injustice and inequality everywhere.”

An Alamance County health director said that one person who attended a May 30 race contracted COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services said while the track is closed, they would allow officials to propose a new plan for operating under restrictions with social distancing.

Chuck Wall, a local veteran driver, competed all three weekends that Ace was open. He told the Winston-Salem Journal that he wasn’t surprised with the ruling.

“I didn’t think they would be able to open back up,” Wall said. “I think the governor is proving a point now, because I know several other tracks in the state are still open. It’s just unfortunate where we are right now.”

Cooper issued an executive order Wednesday requiring people to wear face coverings in public when it’s not possible to maintain physical distance.

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