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North Carolina takes legal action against Ace Speedway with restraining order

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has filed a temporary restraining order in Alamance County to force Ace Speedway to comply with state mandates ordering the racetrack to shut down operations effectively immediately.

A hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday in Graham, North Carolina.

The state issued an abatement order on Monday that required the track to notify customers by Tuesday at 5 p.m. that the track would close until June 26 when the second phase of the North Carolina reopening plan expires.

Track operators Robert and Jason Turned have yet to respond to an abatement order that declared the .400-mile short track an “imminent hazard for the spread of COVID-19,” due to the thousands of spectators drawn over the past three weekends.

The current phase of reopening limits indoor mass gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 10.

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The North Carolina health department also gave Ace Speedway a Tuesday deadline to propose a pandemic response plan that would allow racing to continue under an agreed upon matter. That request was also ignored.

The secretary of the health department, Dr. Mandy Cohen, has said on two other occasions that Ace Speedway had a legal pathway to reopening if they had responded to the state’s requests.

“We haven’t been notified that they have been closing,” Cohen said during a news conference on Wednesday, “so that will escalate to some additional legal steps we take in court, and I believe that there will be a hearing on that tomorrow. And so we will let the lawyers take that from there.”

The Speedway was scheduled to feature racing on Friday night, but a Wednesday Facebook post acknowledged the changing dynamics.

“To all fans and competitors, please stay tuned to our page for more updates as they become available. We are working diligently to prepare a statement. We will check back in with you all tomorrow as the situation continues to change. We can’t wait to see you all again here at ‘The Famous 4/10s Mile.”

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The Thursday morning hearing will be conducted in the county commissioners’ meeting room, as courtroom capacity is limited during the pandemic.

The hearing can be accessed and streamed live through the county’s public information YouTube channel or Facebook page. A streaming link also will be available on the county website’s home page.

“This is a raceway that has had continual events where they’ve brought multiple thousands of people together, shoulder to shoulder, no masks,” Cohen said Wednesday. “And I do want to say that mass gatherings are high risk. We’ve known that, and whether that mass gathering is at a raceway or at a protest, those are high-risk events and they are concerning in terms of spread of virus.

“But there are certain things, as we have come to understand under our law, that have certain constitutional protections, like a protest. So those are things that are going to continue to go on, but they are risks.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    June 11, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Flatten the curve.

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