Merritt Speedway opening for Memorial Day weekend

MERRITT — Mike Blackmer got a bit of a surprise Monday morning.

It's a pretty good one, too.

Local health and governmental officials approved Blackmer's plans to open Merritt Speedway with safety restrictions in place due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The track will be in action both Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24 with separate shows each day.

Blackmer got word that he would be able to open mid-morning and then followed it up with a Facebook Live announcement at 2 p.m.

The announcement set off a storm of support and also a lot of questions for Blackmer and his workers as to what will be allowed and what won't.

"They said if I can keep everybody safe, they supported it," Blackmer said. "Everyone wants to race. A lot of this happened so quickly today that we haven't had time to think about it.

"I need to take (Monday night) and think about how we're going to do this."

Some of the items decided on Monday (subject to change):

• Start time is 6 p.m. for both Saturday and Sunday

• Crew members must stay in their specific pits other than to use the restroom or concession areas

• ORVs, quads, bikes and bicycles are not permitted in the pit area

• Overnight camping will not be permitted

• Fans will follow social-distancing guidelines

• Concessions will have limited foot traffic

• Coolers and tote bags will be restricted as track officials can't safely search them due to COVID-19 guidelines

• Saturday's show — Late Models ($1,500 to win), UMP Modifieds, Pro Stocks, 4 and 6 Cylinders and B-Modifieds

• Sunday's show — Late Models ($2,000) to win, B-Modifieds, Factory Stocks, UMP Modifieds, 4 and 6 Cylinders

• Mini Wedges will be at 3 p.m. Sunday. Once their show is finished, drivers/crew must exit the pit area but can stay as fans for the night

Outside of the drivers and crews themselves, Blackmer said one of the biggest questions will be spectators.

"I could fit between 4,000 and 5,000 in the bleachers and the governor today said things at half capacity," Blackmer said. "I don't think I want to go there yet.

"I'm thinking around 1,200 maybe at least this first weekend to make sure we do everything the right way. I want to be really careful of what we do this weekend."

Blackmer will have an announcement Tuesday as far as if pre-sales of tickets will happen or what the process will be to get them. He doesn't want spectators to come from several hours away and not be able to get into the track.


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