TALLADEGA, Ala. (WBRC) - We are less than 48 hours away from the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, the first major sporting event to welcome fans since COVID-19.
Bud Mitchell hasn’t missed a race at Talladega Superspeedway in 50 years, but he knows come Sunday, that streak will probably come to an end.
“Since 1970, 1970, I’ve been to both races every single one of them,” NASCAR fan Bud Mitchell said.
Bud and his wife Kay drove three hours from Tennessee to camp for the big race at a private RV spot down the road from the racetrack. Only 5,000 fans, that live within 150 miles of the Speedway, are allowed to buy tickets for Sunday’s race, leaving Bud and his wife listening to the race cars from the outside.
“The radius is another safety measure we’ve put in place so we have mostly day trips and it’s not an extended stay. We’re not only protecting the fans here, but also the community,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton.
No coolers will be allowed at this race to help with contact-less screening. Other safety guidelines for fans coming to the Geico 500 include wearing a mask at all times, and social distancing. Talladega has even hired a professional cleaning service to sanitize every area of the racetrack.
“Whether it’s for the campers on the back stretch, where the competitors are and the essential workers on the infield, to the grandstands to the luxury suites, that’s where the professional cleaning company will be sanitizing,” Crichton added.
Although Bud may not physically be there for the Geico 500, he believes being in the area is worth the trip.
“We’ve got the big screen TV to watch, but there’s nothing like being there in person and smelling the rubber,” Mitchell said.
Talladega says they still have tickets available for Sunday’s race, but again fans must live within 150 miles of the racetrack to purchase.