RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An Alamance County judge has granted the state a temporary restraining order against ACE Speedway – limiting its audience to 25 people.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Dr. Mandy Cohen filed for a temporary restraining order against the speedway on Wednesday.
The speedway has played host to thousands on more than one occasion over the last month – violating Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order that limits mass gatherings.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Tom Lambeth granted the restraining order just after noon on Thursday.
He said that Cohen’s complaint shows that there is an “imminent health hazard.”
- NCDHHS, ACE Speedway owners face off in court after race track defies closure order
- NCDHHS takes legal action against ACE Speedway
- Alamance County sheriff responds to Gov. Cooper closing ACE Speedway
- Gov. Cooper issues order to close ACE Speedway, declares it an ‘imminent hazard’
- Fans pack stands at reopening of NC speedway after sheriff said he would not interfere
Upon returning after a recess, the judge said that state leaders are likely very stressed amid the pandemic and are working through a “true public health emergency.”
Lambeth acknowledged that people are getting “quarantine fatigue” but said “we aren’t there yet” in terms of fully opening up.
The judge also said state leaders should be applauded for their efforts through the pandemic.
“It really makes me sad how sort of contentious some of this is becoming among people in our society,” the judge said. “You know, we are all American. I keep shaking my head sometimes because we’ve got such an us versus them mentality in our nation right now that is so regrettable.”
Robert Turner and his son, who operate the Ace Speedway, were not present at the hearing.
NCDHHS lawyers began the hearing by listing the restrictions the state asked of Ace Speedway that they say were not followed when conducting races and the potential health risks if races continue.
Turner’s lawyer presented a declaration from the Speedway to the judge. He said Ace Speedway was advised by local officials on what safety measures were needed and the speedway followed those and has documentation of it.
He said the state does not have the police power to shut down the race track, just to place restrictions, and that the 25-person limit on outdoor seating makes it impossible to run a business.
The Ace Speedway lawyer says other race tracks have not faced the same restrictions, including a recent televised race in Charlotte. He claims that Gov. Cooper’s office singled out Ace Speedway because the owner spoke out against the governor.
The NCDHHS lawyer said that the Charlotte race complied with the order and worked with the state to make sure that the race could happen safely. He says those same restrictions were discussed with Ace Speedway.
Robert and Jason Turner’s lawyer said the Turners do not own Ace Speedway. They’re just a part of a company that is in charge of operating races there.
The next hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for June 19 at 9:30 a.m.
More headlines from CBS17.com:
- More than 150 National Guard in Washington for inauguration test positive for coronavirus
- Triangle-area colleges report wave of COVID-19 cases as semester begins
- Activists want Biden to defund ICE, overhaul migrant detention policies
- Nearly 1,300 COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted in NC, officials say
- Police investigating after body found in Durham neighborhood