Gov. Cooper says state will ‘take action’ against NC speedway that continues to draw thousands

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday he planned to crackdown this week on an Alamance County speedway that continues to attract thousands of spectators — most recently by claiming the event was a protest.

Cooper said Monday the state would take action about Ace Speedway continuing to have races that draw thousands of fans.

The Alamance County sheriff has said that he would not interfere in the large gatherings, which Cooper claims violate his Phase Two reopening order.

“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.

Over the weekend, the speedway drew a crowd of more than 2,000 spectators in defiance of the state’s coronavirus restrictions after declaring the race a “protest.”

The governor’s office had warned the speedway that a crowd of more than 25 would violate the state’s Phase Two coronavirus restrictions.

But news outlets report that more than 2,000 attended a race Saturday night.

A sign from management outside the speedway said, “This Event is held in Peaceful Protest of Injustice and Inequality Everywhere.”

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said it is “evaluating the events” of the weekend.

Cooper and Alamance County officials have tangled over the speedway in the past.

County officials claim they were in contact with Cooper’s office before their reopening the weekend of May 23 — and that they sought guidance for the reopening.

Alamance County officials said they “were puzzled by” Cooper’s comments on May 26 calling the speedway’s reopening “dangerous and reckless.”

Just Friday, Cooper’s office sent a letter saying that said “ACE Speedway has continuously and flagrantly violated the plain and unambiguous language of the Phase Two Order.”

On Monday, Cooper again called the owners actions “reckless.”

“People should not run a money-making operation that puts in danger their customers, but anybody that would come in contact with their customers,” he said.

Cooper seemed to tie the speedway operation to higher COVID-19 cases in the county.

“Alamance County is one of the counties that is having higher numbers than it should have and we look forward to taking some action on this in the coming week,” Cooper said Monday.

— WGHP-TV contributed to this report

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