Officials focus on positive as tourism revenues are projected to decline

By Brandon Martin

Although the postponement of the May 8-9 race at the Martinsville Speedway is expected to cause a decline in tourism revenues, local officials anticipate that when the race returns, it will be better than ever.

When the race is rescheduled, my guess is that it will be the biggest and best race weekend we’ve ever had,” Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said. “Clay Campbell and his team at Martinsville Speedway are great at what they do, and I’m confident they will put together an epic event.”

NASCAR announced that the race scheduled was postponed until further notice in response to the coronavirus.

Many other annual events also have been canceled for the season or postponed, which also will mean a decrease in tourism monies.

Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said that he was dismayed to learn that the race was among those postponed.

But, the fact the race is being postponed as opposed to cancelled, is also encouraging news, he said.

NASCAR said that it hopes to run 36 races this year, but that the times and locations have yet to be determined.

“The well-being and safety of our patrons, NASCAR stakeholders, employees and our community continues to be our number one priority,” Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said, adding that we want to thank all of our dedicated fans who were set to join us during our May race weekend and our first NASCAR Cup Series race under the lights.

Certainly we wish the race could be held as scheduled, because all of us were looking forward to a great weekend. But it’s important that we concentrate on getting the coronavirus behind us, Hall said, adding tourism around the speedway is typically seen as an economic boon for the area.

However, he added that priorities have shifted this year in the wake of COVID-19.

“I’ll have to admit I’m disappointed, as I’m sure many people are, hoping that by the time of the race in May, the COVID-19 issues are subsiding and people can finally get out for some entertainment and fun,” Towarnicki said. “Realizing, however, that large events like this require weeks and months of advance planning and not knowing what the situation may be in several weeks regarding COVID issues, postponing the race appears to be the best decision.”

“We appreciate your patience and understanding during these challenging times and we look forward to having everyone back in the near future to help us make history once again at Martinsville Speedway, Campbell said.

“Even though news of late regarding COVID-19 is more encouraging, the health and safety of everyone is still what’s important,” Towarnicki said, and added that he also is looking forward to the race being rescheduled.

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