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OP-ED: The time has come to safely wave the green flag

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

NOTE: The following opinion editorial was written by South Boston Speedway and sent to local newspapers as part of an effort to reopen our sports venues in Virginia. We appreciate you reading and sharing.

South Boston, Va. (Feb. 15, 2021) -- The sound of race cars mute. The smell of rubber and high-octane fuel faint. That has been the case for the last year at South Boston Speedway.

Just under 12 months ago, historic South Boston Speedway went from gearing up for its next season of thrilling motorsports action to a complete shutdown. Aside from a few private testing sessions, the South Boston, VA racetrack affectionately known as “SoBo” sat idle throughout all of 2020.

The track tried numerous times to safely fire the engines, under numerous different health and government regulations, to no avail. Many times, getting within days of an advertised event only to have to send out cancellations at the eleventh hour.

Now, almost a year later, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines to fight the COVID-19 virus have made record pace getting out, with millions of people already receiving a shot in the arm.

Now it’s time to wave the green flag… and it can be done in a safe and socially distanced manner.

South Boston Speedway has spent the past year planning to fire the engines. Countless gallons of sanitizer have been purchased and multiple plans are ready to be put into action to safely welcome race fans and competitors back to the track.

South Boston Speedway is a medium-sized venue. The .4-mile track has various types of seating around the facility including thousands of grandstand seats, hundreds of feet of bring-your-own chair seating, arm lengths upon armlengths of standing room and 70 trackside tailgating spaces where a person never has to leave the enclosure of their car. South Boston Speedway has plenty of room with which to safely handle more than the 250-pers

on capacity currently permitted by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The ask is simple: a percentage-based capacity limit. The percentage-based plan will allow South Boston Speedway to operate again, something that the 250-person limit prohibits because of the financial strain such a small crowd puts on the venue’s operations.

South Boston Speedway has – and always will be – a major part of this community. The venue welcomes families from across the region and from surrounding states to every event. It is one of Halifax County’s core tourism venues and brings in significant tax dollars for the locality and the commonwealth, something that's desperately needed right now.

Letting racing return will also bring much-needed mental healing to our region and state. Let’s throw the green flag on letting racing return while waving the checkered flag on a year of mental anguish and strife.

We at South Boston Speedway stand ready to help heal the community. And we mean it. If our region needs space for vaccination distribution, our 40 acres are wide open to help. If students need to access our front parking area to gain Wi-Fi access, we want to help.

We commit to taking the proper steps outlined by the commonwealth, its health experts, government officials and our fellow sports venues to provide the safest possible environment for our fans, competitors and partners. All we ask is to let us race.

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