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North Carolina speedway that defied Gov. Cooper cancels races after temporary restraining order

Thomas Barrabi

North Carolina-based Ace Speedway said Thursday it has canceled upcoming races after a judge upheld a temporary restraining order forcing the track to shut down over violations of Gov. Roy Cooper’s guidelines on mass gatherings.

Ace Speedway operators Jason and Robert Turner said planned events on June 13 and June 19 would no longer take place. The venue will offer private track rentals for small groups in compliance with local public health guidance during the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Thank you to our local officials who have stood by their beliefs,” the Turners said in a statement posted on Ace Speedway’s Facebook page. “Thank you to our fans, our employees, our sponsors and our race teams who have expressed their support through the good and the bad. Continue to stick with us, this does not mean 2020 is over, just on hold.”

Cooper, a Democrat, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services called for the track to shut down for repeatedly defying an executive order against mass gatherings. Ace Speedway hosted an event last weekend with at least 2,000 fans in attendance, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

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Current guidelines for outdoor events in the state restrict gatherings to no more than 25 people. Cooper said the speedway’s decision to continue holding races without attendance limits was an “imminent hazard” to public health.

Judge Tom Lambeth upheld the temporary restraining order imposed by state officials after a short hearing on Thursday.

The judge said the order would restrict “Ace Speedway and any of the entities associated with it from holding any races until we can have another hearing on this matter.”

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Sporting events are still subject to attendance restrictions in most states. NASCAR returned to competition last month, holding races without fans in attendance.

NASCAR said it will allow a small number of fans to attend upcoming races in Florida and Alabama, in compliance with local guidelines.

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