COVID-19 cancels Sprint car racing’s greatest happening

Locale by locale, some speedways have been inching toward resumption of their seasons, in many cases without fans, or with enforced social distancing. One such track is the historic Knoxville Raceway in central Iowa, which recently got the World of Outlaws back in operation with several fan-less events. The biggest happening at the track, however, is the Knoxville Nationals, a guaranteed four-day sellout during its run each August. COVID-19 infection rates across Iowa have been on the upswing, and the notion of running this huge event, which draws well over 100 of Sprint car racing’s top teams, is unthinkable. That’s why the Marion County Fair Board in Knoxville has decided that the 60th running of the sport’s greatest event will not take place this year. Knoxville made its decision less than 24 hours after Eldora Speedway in Ohio declared that what’s arguably the second-biggest Sprint car race in America, the Kings Royal, won’t be taking place this year, either.

It takes three days of qualifying – four, if you count the “alphabet soup” of preliminary features on the final night – to set the field for Knoxville’s A-main, which includes luminaries like the guy pictured above, multi-time track champion Terry McCarl of Altoona, Iowa. All we can say is, you haven’t really experienced auto racing until you’ve witnessed the majesty of a Knoxville Nationals. It’s truly one of the most compelling, intense short-track events anybody can ever experience. Yes, it’s that good. Start making your plans for 2021 now and it you happen to be anywhere near Des Moines in the coming year, try to take in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum, whose sparkling headquarters overlooks Turn Two of the track. And hang in there. We’ll all get through this eventually.

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