COVID-19 Creates A Roller-Coaster Season


Call it a roller coaster, a curveball or a flat-out sucker punch. Whatever 2020 is deemed, it has certainly been a year of uncertainty and adaptation.

Some of America’s most renowned names were solidified during times of distress. Rockefeller and Buffett are two examples of people who came out swinging during a crisis. While not every step they took was a home run, the end result was a game-winning grand slam.

World Racing Group has been swinging for the fences with an aggressive path this year in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, which didn’t shy away from wreaking havoc on the motorsports industry as it did the entire business world.

“It’s been really challenging,” World Racing Group Chief Executive Officer Brian Carter said during an interview in early August. “Coming out of Florida with so much momentum, for the first time I was able to take spring break with my family. I was in Utah enjoying some snowboarding on the seventh of March. I came back and the world was a different place.”

Carter and officials with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series ran into a difficult decision as the series was slated to compete in Texas on March 13 when other sports, including IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One, were canceling events.

The field for the Return to Racing event featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at Knoxville Raceway. (Trent Gower Photo)

“That Thursday/Friday mayhem with basketball, IndyCar, NASCAR (canceling events), we were sitting there on the 13th saying we really need to step back and not have a mass gathering of people until we know what’s going on,” Carter said. “From that point it was pretty much mayhem. You try to be responsible not only to your family, and your families at work, but your racing families. From that point forward, to a point I’d never been in at life trying to manage the sport, we didn’t know when or where we were racing again.

“This particular point from March through really the end of April, we didn’t know when we were going back to the race track,” Carter continued. “That part was a level of uncertainly that hadn’t been experienced before. From that point, it became an hourly progress of what’s happening? What are the alternatives? How do we get back to the race track?

“I’m flipping through my calendar. I stopped using pen. It changed on a daily basis if not multiple times in a day. We pretty much in March told everyone to go home and we’d let them know,” he added. “We had to mobilize the series, staff and all of the teams. For the sprint cars and late models, they are all over the country. It became a massive task just to mobilize everyone.”

According to Carter, numerous plans to return to racing fell through before the first event for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series on May 8 at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, where 48 drivers were selected to participate with no spectators in the stands. It became the first of many races that were aided by DIRTVision, which is World Racing Group’s in-house media service that broadcasts a live stream from all World of Outlaws events.

“The biggest obstacle candidly was partnering with a facility and understanding the government and local jurisdiction, figuring out what we could do relative to just bringing in the required staff and (teams),” Carter explained. “The first event was done with less than 400 people on the property. When you think of the magnitude to do that with less than 400 people is an extraordinary task. From that perspective that was the initial start of wondering: ‘How do you do this?’ We started modifying it to be in compliance with whatever came our way. It’s been an interesting learning curve and we’re constantly adapting.

“DIRTVision has been our awareness campaign … engaging them in what we do. We come into your area and may be in your area for one weekend or two or three. Our fans want to be engaged more than just when we’re there,” Carter explained. “It’s created a revenue stream that helped us navigate this when we could not have fans in the grandstands. The economics of our event will always be driven with having a healthy crowd in the grandstands.

“DIRTVision was one of the components. We have a lot of sponsors that support the series. We have a lot of people who support the series.”

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As an Editor and an Sports Geek, it's my pleasure to share my knowledge about Sports and their various aspects that can impact our lives.

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