South Dakota doesn't have any regulations against large public gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, so on Saturday Park Jefferson International Speedway will hold the Open Wheel Nationals -- a dirt race. Ticket sales for the event are cut off to some degree, with only 700 fans being allowed to attend despite the track having a seating capacity of 4,000.
While there is no stay-at-home order in the state, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is against the event, saying that fans shouldn't attend races at the dirt track.
"I'm going to strongly recommend to the people of South Dakota that they not go and that they stay home," Noem said on Tuesday. "We're asking that they be wise and smart to continue on the path and plan we've laid out for South Dakota for several more weeks."
Track owner Adam Adamson told ArgusLeader.com that tickets to the event were pre-sold and extra steps -- such as fans only being able to purchase concessions with credit cards -- are being taken to assure safety of those who attend.
"We intend to go overboard on following CDC guidelines," Adamson said. "We're just a small race track in rural South Dakota trying to give some entertainment and a little bit of a break from some of this madness that's going on right now. We think we can do so in a safe environment."
The race is expected to feature 410 total sprint cars and IMCA modifieds, but the fields will be limited to 32 entries apiece. A total of 64 teams will be in attendance for the race, which is down from the usual 150 teams that attend the Open Road Nationals.
"The way we figured it, we could probably have a little over 900 people with six feet apart between each person, and we're actually only selling 700 seats, not even 900. We actually went way less than that just to give people more room," former sprint car racer and promoter Terry McCarlMcCarl told Keloland.com.
South Dakota's Union County, where the race is taking place, currently has seven positive cases of COVID-19.