ELON, N.C. (WNCN) — Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered ACE Speedway in Alamance County close immediately and called the venue an “imminent hazard.”
Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in an order issued Monday night that the speedway could reopen for customers if it presents a plan showing it will follow state guidelines.
The plan must be approved by the NCDHHS for the speedway to reopen.
The plan to reopen must follow Cooper’s executive order which moved the state into Phase Two of the reopening process amid the pandemic. However, his office has expressed concern that the racetrack is not following the directive.
Cooper’s executive order does not allow for crowds of more than 25 people during this time.
During a press conference on Monday, Cooper said the state would take action against the speedway.
Reports say that more than 2,550 people attended a recent race, more than 100 times the allowable number.
“To date, it appears that some Alamance County officials have not sought to enforce the order against ACE Speedway, notwithstanding that, as further explained below, ACE Speedway has continuously and flagrantly violated the plain and unambiguous language of the Phase Two Order,” the letter, signed by General Counsel William Kinney, said. “These violations pose a serious risk to the health of people in Alamance County and throughout the State.”
The next race is scheduled for June 19.
Cooper’s order stipulates that certain types of sports and entertainment facilities, such as ACE Speedway, pose greater risk for the spread of COVID-19 given the nature of the activity and the way people traditionally act and interact with each other in those spaces.
When Cooper caught wind, he called the event “reckless” and “dangerous.”
“It’s concerning that Alamance County officials have not been able to stop this. If they can’t, the state will have to take action — which we will do this week if the local officials don’t,” Cooper said in a news conference Monday afternoon.
Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said he did not cite the owner of the racetrack during the May race because he was unclear of the governor’s wording in the executive order, which allows crowds of more than 25 people for weddings and other events exercising someone’s first amendment rights.
The owner of the racetrack called Saturday’s event a “Unity Rally with Racing.”
During the Saturday race, many fans held signs saying, “Racing for rights.”
Some people who attended say they went to protest the governor’s executive order restricting their right to assemble.