DARLINGTON, S.C. (WMBF) – The checkered flag will be waving on Sunday the Darlington Raceway, but there are several things that will set this NASCAR race apart from those in the past.
Not only will it not have fans in the stands due to the coronavirus, but it’s happening in a different time of year, which is impacting the preparations on several different levels.
“We got to get the track ready, something we’re not used to doing this time of the year,” said Scooby Gaines, the owner of Top Notch Landscaping.
Gainey has been landscaping for more than two decades and has worked on Darlington Raceway for several different races.
He’s usually trying to find flowers that will bloom by Labor Day for the race, but he’s made an adjustment for this weekend’s race.
“Normally I plant flowers in these beds and the winners circle… but what I’ve decided to do is plant these knock-out roses so they’ll stay small and give us color from spring till December,” Gainey said.
While Gainey’s taking a different approach outside, things will be a little different inside as well.
“They’re going to be coming in, no practice, no qualifying. The drivers and teams aren’t getting here till the day of the race, so when you unload off that truck, you better be pretty close because there’s not a whole lot of time for adjustments,” Tharp said.
While the drivers are caught with little time to make last-minute changes, the crews will be making their own adjustments behind the scenes.
“The pit crews are already masked up with their hoods and gloves during the course of the event, so that will take care of itself, but anytime you’re in the garage area or really on property for the event itself, you will be required to wear the PPE,” Tharp said.
Even without any fans on raceway property, Tharp is confident there will be plenty of excitement around this unusual race.
“There’s a difference, but there’s still that same excitement and energy knowing we’re going to have live racing here in just a couple of days,” Tharp said.
He added that the raceway will take steps to make sure no large crowds gather on the property during race day.