CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Sunday marks the 61st running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The coronavirus pandemic put that milestone in jeopardy, but the race will go on with some safety measures in place.
“This is a race that has been a six-decade tradition on Memorial Day weekend," Vice President of Communications at Charlotte Motor Speedway Scott Cooper said. "So, the opportunity for us to host that race and salute our troops and U.S. Armed Forces is part of what makes that race so special. If we had to postpone it or delay it, it just wouldn’t have felt the same.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway’s operations team installed 50 hand-sanitizer dispensers, 120 portable restrooms so each team has its own and 15 additional hand-washing stations.
Sanitation crews are using Sherwin-Williams paint pumps for large-scale spraying of disinfectant in garages, the race control tower and the press box.
There will be no spectators allowed inside to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19.
Employees, drivers and teams who must be in attendance will go through strict screening before and during race day.
Cooper said that prior race-day, teams will answer a questionnaire checking for COVID-19 symptoms. They will only receive credentials once they pass that pre-race-day screening.
On race day, employees, drivers and teams will be screened by Atrium Health employees. The screening includes a series of questions and temperature checks.
“So, it’s definitely a process and a procedure just to get into the property on race day, and there will also be some random screenings and check throughout the day on each race day,” Cooper said.
Because the virus can be present without a person showing symptoms, Atrium Health will park its mobile emergency department called MED-1 in the infield. MED-1 will be reserved for anyone showing symptoms of the virus.
“If someone whose already been screened, comes into the infield and starts to exhibit signs of COVID, We’ll use this facility to treat them,” Atrium Health’s Jason Schwebach said.
MED-1 is Atrium Health’s second mobile emergency department.
Schwebach said the mobile units are often used in disaster scenarios and to assist other hospitals undergoing renovations. The Coca-Cola 600 will be the first time Med-1 is used.
“It has 14 beds as a typical emergency department would. It has imaging capability and ultrasound, a small laboratory and the back is a two-bed operating suite,” Schwebach said.
The Coca-Cola 600 running this weekend is a sign that the country is on its way back to normalcy.
Cooper said they are taking these precautions so that it doesn’t come to a screeching halt again.
“It’s truly an honor but it’s also a huge responsibility. We have to do this, and we have to do this right,” Cooper said.