Kevin Douglass of Sidney, far right, signs autographs in victory lane after winning a July 2019 Pro Stock feature at Wiscasset Speedway. Kennebec Journal photo by Travis Barrett

While NASCAR is on hold at the national level due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, local race tracks and tours are bracing for their own seasons — less than month away in some cases — to start later than expected.

“I don’t know, I really don’t,” said Vanessa Jordan, who owns Wiscasset Speedway with her husband, Richard Jordan.

Wiscasset is scheduled to open April 25. The track also has two open practice days for its teams slated for April 11 and April 18.

Already  Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and Stafford Motor Speedway, both in Connecticut where New England’s racing season traditionally begins, have pushed their season-opening events in April to May. As spring creeps closer in Maine, track owners here are similarly expecting changes to the early portions of their schedules.

Current Center for Disease Control guidelines surrounding COVID-19 ask for practicing social distancing, including not gathering in groups of 10 or more people. Race track pit areas and grandstands typically house in the hundreds, if not thousands.

“We placed our tire order with our supplier in Connecticut (Hoosier Tire East), and he called and asked us if we wanted to push that back,” Jordan said. “We decided (Monday) that we’re still planning on moving along like normal, and we’ll figure things out as we go.

“We’re going to practice April 11 and 18, that’s our plan — knowing full well if we have to push things back, we certainly will do that. We know things can change.”

Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough has already determined that its season-opening NASCAR Nite event will not take place on its original May 2 date.

Track owner Andy Cusack confirmed via email Tuesday that he’s following guidelines sent to him by NASCAR. The sanctioning body has postponed all of its national events — including the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Truck Series — through May 3, and this week NASCAR extended that policy to include all of its regional touring series and short tracks.

Beech Ridge is Maine’s only NASCAR-sanctioned short track.

“I’ll likely just allow teams to practice as scheduled (May 9 and 16), assuming the government and NASCAR allow, then just use May 23 as the opener,” Cusack wrote.

The Pro All Stars Series (PASS) is holding its season opening event for the North Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on April 17-18. One week later, PASS and the American-Canadian Tour have a doubleheader event for both series at Oxford Plains Speedway on the calendar.

Phone calls to PASS owner Tom Mayberry were not immediately returned, though PASS did post a statement on its website regarding both the NHMS and Oxford Plains events.

“The reality is that, due to the fluidness of the situation, we are in ‘wait and see’ mode just like our teams and fans,” the statement read. “That being said, we take the health of our teams and fans seriously, and we will ultimately do what’s best in that regard. We also will abide by whatever local and federal executive orders regarding social gatherings are still in place come mid-to-late April.”

Speedway 95 in Hermon is scheduled to open May 9 but owner Del Merritt said he is evaluating options.

“We might have to extend this into June, but who knows,” he said. “We are in a wait-and-see approach. We need to see if this (coronavirus) settles down. Everybody seems to be in a panic right now, and rightfully so, but we just don’t know how long this will last.”

Merritt, who owns Judy’s Restaurant in Bangor and Cap’s Tavern in Brewer, said he’s concerned about the economy as well, and what it could look like once race tracks can open.

“I had to lay off 14 or 15 people from the restaurants,” Merritt said. “The (coronavirus) could wreck this economy. We don’t know what this will look like once we come back.

“Hopefully, things will settle down soon and we can get to racing at some point.”

Sports editor Bill Stewart contributed to this report.


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