ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — We could find out today if the state will take action after a local racetrack opened its doors to the public for another race, defying Gov. Roy Cooper’s order.
Cooper’s executive order does not allow for crowds of more than 25 people during this time. There were more than 800 tickets sold to a race at Ace Speedway in Alamance County.
The stands were full with many people packed in and not wearing face coverings or social distancing, but our crews did see staff doing temperature checks of fans.
Ace Speedway held its first race back in May and has around 2,000 people in attendance.
When Cooper caught wind, he called the event “reckless” and “dangerous.”
Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said he did not cite the owner of the racetrack during the May race because he was unclear of the governor’s wording in the executive order, which allows crowds of more than 25 people for weddings and other events exercising someone’s first amendment rights.
The owner of the racetrack called Saturday’s event a “Unity Rally with Racing.”
During the Saturday race, many fans held signs saying, “Racing for rights.”
Some folks who went say they went to protest the governor’s executive order restricting their right to assemble.
“A lot of folks don`t understand this racetrack as a small business, and with all the COVID-19 situation, a lot of small businesses have been put under a lot of great pressure, and many of them have closed. This race track has reached a point where they had to race or they were going to run out of money and were going to have to close,” Randy Pettit said.
Our crews did not see anyone from the sheriff’s office there. Only the track owner can be written a citation for violating the order. Fans can not be cited for attending.
That is classified as a class 2 misdemeanor which can carry a fine.
FOX8 reached out to the sheriff’s office Monday morning to see if they did in fact take action. We also reached out to the State Department of Health and Human Services to see if they will push for any action.
On Friday, Gov. Cooper’s office issued a letter urging Alamance County officials to prevent the racetrack from hosting future events that violate the Phase 2 reopening executive order meant to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The letter says news outlets reported that more than 2,550 people attended a May 23 event at the race track, more than 100 times the allowable number.
“Enforcement of the Phase 2 Order against ACE Speedway is critical because Burlington, which is in Alamance County, has one of the highest average daily growth rates of coronavirus deaths in the country and recently topped the list with the number of COVID-19 deaths doubling every 6.7 days,” the letter said.
The letter included a formal request to Alamance County Commission and Sheriff Johnson to take all the necessary steps to require ACE Speedway to comply with the order.