In a letter today, House Speaker Tim Moore asked Governor Cooper to amend his executive orders to allow the Coca-Cola 600 to go on as scheduled Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte, only without fans. 

“Our state must find appropriate measures to reopen our economy and begin a full recovery as soon as possible,” Moore wrote. “Allowing NASCAR to return Memorial Day Weekend without fans would not only benefit the motorsports industry that calls our state home, it would mark a rebeginning for North Carolina’s tourism, entertainment, and service industries that are desperate for business.” 

It’s hard to see how an event without spectators would relaunch the tourism, entertainment, and service sectors in Charlotte or across the state.

Cooper’s current shutdown order end on April 29, though it seems likely the governor will extend some of the rules into May—especially rules governing mass gatherings. Cooper has said he will base decisions on COVID-19 trends and the availability of testing and contact tracing. 

The Speedway is in Cabarrus County, which means it would fall under the state’s stay-at-home order, not that of Mecklenburg County. 

Yesterday, Republican state lawmakers began urging the governor to reopen the Charlotte Motor Speedway in time for the May 24 race, the 60th anniversary of what is now the Coke 600. Florida, they’ve noted, will allow races to happen without an audience, and North Carolina should follow the example of the state that declared professional wrestling an essential business

The speedway still wants fans, though it acknowledges that might not be possible: “Our desire is to run the Coca-Cola 600 with fans as originally scheduled on May 24, but we realize these are unprecedented circumstances and the parameters surrounding public gatherings remain a primary consideration,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith told WBTV. 

This push comes amid an elite-driven movement to pressure Democratic governors across the country to reopen their states, though epidemiologists say doing so now could have dire public health consequences. 

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

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