COOS BAY — After reopening for one race last week, the Coos Bay Speedway has closed its gates once more.
As select businesses around the county got the green light to reopen last Friday under the county's Phase I reopen plan, the Coos Bay Speedway opened back up as well. The Speedway, a NASCAR sanctioned race track, scheduled events over the weekend while being in violation of Executive Order 20-25 which does not allow for recreational gatherings.
Street drags occurred on Friday night, but Coos Bay Speedway announced on Saturday that upcoming races were canceled. On Friday the organization received a letter from Rick Hallmark, the program manager of Environmental Health Services at Coos Health and Wellness.
“…(T)he governor’s Executive Order 20-25 may allow you to serve some food from the building you have licensed as a restaurant, but the same order only allows recreational gatherings for up to 10 people,” the letter read.
“This is your only warning.”
The letter said that the actions are punishable, which could result in a Class C misdemeanor and the revocation of their restaurant license.
“Well folks, we are done for a while. It appears that the county/state has shut us down after last night,” said the Coos Bay Speedway in a post online. “Just give us some more time to find another loophole if we can.”
Before opening on Friday, Drake Nelson, owner of the Speedway, said that the racetrack is a dining establishment.
“Well, we are a bar and grill is where we’re at. Bar and grills can have as many people that can fit in their deal. So you know, I don’t really — like I said, it’s not really something I want to talk about at this point. We’re so borderline with what we’re doing,” said Nelson.
In a post before Friday’s races, the Coos Bay Speedway provided a list of changes made at the track to promote public safety. Sanitizing stations were in place, grandstand seating was marked off showing where people can sit and employees would be wearing masks among other changes.
“All social distancing rules apply and any violators will be escorted off the property,” the post said. Individuals who attended Friday’s events reported that social distancing guidelines were not followed by all spectators.
Earlier this month Governor Kate Brown stated that sporting events with a crowd will not be allowed through, at least, September.
“Large gatherings, including large sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals and conventions will not be able to return until we have a reliable treatment or prevention, like a vaccine. The Oregon Health Authority is advising that any large gathering, at least through September, should be canceled or at least significantly modified,” said Brown.
In Oregon, live sporting events will be able to return once counties are in Phase III.
“Concerts, conventions, festivals, live audience sports won’t be possible until a reliable treatment or prevention is available. It is unknown at this time when this will be,” read Governor Brown’s “Reopening Oregon: Details on Restarting Public Life and Business” document.