A week ago, Park Jefferson International Speedway announced that it would hold the Open Wheel Nationals at the South Dakota dirt track in spite of the risks inherent in gatherings and open it to a number of ticket holders.
The park had a plan in place to limit the number of fans and maintain social distancing, but the racing world watched with bated breath. Would the state allow the race to happen?
Well, yes. Although, without butts in the seats. On April 23, Park Jefferson released a statement rescinding the fan attendance after discussions with the South Dakota Department of Health and the Governor. “Governor Noem and her team have been doing a great job leading our state and have asked the citizens to be smart and innovative in how they operate,” stated the official announcement from the Speedway. “While we felt we were innovative in how we were addressing fan safety by abiding by the CDC guidelines, we also know the importance of working with our officials guidance on fan attendance.”
On Friday April 25th, the Dirt Nationals welcomed 64 Open Wheel entrants to run the race, a nod towards normalcy in this stunted race season.
Sprint Car racer Brock Zearfoss took home the win and the $6000 payout in that division, while Ricky Thornton Jr. came from mid-pack to take the IMCA checkered flag.
The race also raised sponsorship money for the drivers, and a $1,500 donation was made to the Beresford, South Dakota food bank.
Congratulations to all of the participants. It was surely a much-welcomed chance to get back behind the wheel and onto the track and we trust that all precautions were taken. For the fans, Park Jefferson issued this statement, “”We truly appreciate the outpouring of support from all of the fans and sanctioning bodies for our event. We hope to be able to offer you the chance to come to Park Jefferson Speedway for an event in the very near future. ”