Daytona International Speedway made the return to sports swiftly and carefully, hosting three events at the track — with fans — since July 4 and offering a full roster of events for fall 2020 and beyond. In close partnership with AdventHealth, Official Health Care Partner of Daytona International Speedway, the NASCAR track established a rigorous set of protocols for fans and competitors to prevent spread of disease and limit contact inside the venue.
“The most important piece is that when fans show up they don’t have an elevated temperature,” said Chip Wile, president of Daytona International Speedway. “All fans must wear masks, have their temperatures taken at the gate and answer a set of questions to ensure that they are healthy enough to enter. Once they are inside the gate, each person receives a 2 oz. bottle of sanitizer, and they are distanced from other fans until they leave the venue.”
In any case where an event attendee does not pass the gate screening, AdventHealth’s on-site medical team can assist in connecting fans with appropriate medical care.
“Our team of physicians, nurses and technicians with extensive COVID-19 experience helped design the screening protocols,” said Dr. Paul Mucciolo, AdventHealth medical director for Daytona International Speedway. “Because of this cooperative effort, fans and teams can enjoy the race.“
On an event day, Daytona International Speedway limits the number of fans to approximately 25% capacity . In the areas where crowds typically gather, like the concourse and concession lines, fans are guided by “pucks” on the ground that keep them a minimum of six feet apart. The same goes for the stands. Fans are seated six feet apart from other fans, and track staff are actively surveying the stands for compliance throughout the weekend.
Daytona’s safe return to sports has been a collaborative team effort. Staff that normally would be back of house — like food service employees — are being brought to the forefront where they continually wipe down the food and merchandise areas. In the stands, every usher carries a wipe and hand sanitizer, and in areas like the AdventHealth Injector gate, seating is spaced out and cleaned regularly.
“It’s a two-pronged approach,” said Wile. “We want to keep it clean, yes, but we also want our guests to have a comfort that it’s being kept clean all day long. The fans are grateful for that.”
As for the drivers and teams competing at the speedway, the protocols are strict. Drivers are required to be at the track a prescribed number of hours before a race starts. They are not permitted in the garage areas. Teams are compartmentalized. The “bubble” for teams inside the track has to stay sterile and secure all weekend.
A silver lining of the pandemic, according to Wile, is that it has accelerated technological and digital initiatives that were in the works pre-pandemic and implementing them now. As a result, Daytona and other NASCAR tracks are now offering fans cashless payment options and mobile ticketing experiences to further increase the safety of their events.
“AdventHealth has been a tremendous partner for a number of reasons, and it’s been remarkable to see the compliance at the track,” said Wile. “We are in talks with the other pro sports leagues regularly and beginning to see them using some of our procedures. It’s working well, and I am proud to be a part of this great sport.”