As mask mandates and social distancing mandates related to COVID-19 begin to be dropped across the nation, one of NASCAR's marquee events is now set to take place in front of a full crowd of race fans in just a few short weeks. On Friday, the Charlotte Motor Speedway announced that they have lifted their limitations on grandstand seating, allowing for a full capacity crowd for the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 race weekend for the NASCAR Cup Series.
The speedway's announcement follows a Friday executive order by North Carolina governor Roy Cooper which lifted nearly all mask mandates and social distancing limits within the state.
"We are thrilled with today's news that will allow fans to return to 'America's Home for Racing' without limitation," read a statement by Greg Walter, executive vice president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "From the outset of the pandemic, whether operating a drive-through testing clinic or hosting the state's first mass vaccination event, this has been the ultimate goal – to get back to filling the grandstands for the biggest, most entertaining events in motorsports."
Per the executive order, fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway will no longer be required to wear masks or socially distance in outdoor areas, though fans who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to wear a mask. Restrictions for race fans will be lifted beginning Saturday, allowing for a full crowd of race fans to attend the speedway's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes the latest track on the NASCAR schedule to drop crowd capacity restrictions, following in the footsteps of Pocono Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Kansas Speedway. On the other side of the fence, NASCAR announced earlier this week that drivers & competitors would no longer be required to wear masks in the pits and garage area.
The Coca-Cola 600 was the third race NASCAR ran after resuming its season in May of last season, with the longest race on the Cup Series schedule running without a crowd in attendance. Fans would return to the Speedway in the fall when the Charlotte Roval race ran in front of a limited capacity crowd.
This year's Coca-Cola 600 is Sunday, May 30, with the green flag set to wave just after 6 p.m. ET.