MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Fans who attended an event at the Bandimere Speedway on Saturday showed their support online for the business, thanking them for providing a way to celebrate July 4th. Jefferson County Public Health announced over the weekend it would look into violations to an order made in an agreement with the business.
“It felt good to get out, I mean everyone’s been locked down and getting a little restless,” said Todd Ingram, a race fan who attended the Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals event on Saturday. “I was worried they weren’t going to have this event more than anything, this event that we go to every year, I race at Bandimere, I love Bandimere. I love what they did.”
The health department said Sunday it intended to pursue legal action but did not reveal any of the next steps on Monday. While leaders with the agency believe the business and its staff tried to meet the requirements based on COVID-19 concerns, they did not see the required social distancing by the evening of the race event and fireworks show. Health officials asked that groups be limited to 175 at certain locations throughout the property, they were comfortable with thousands entering the Speedway as long as they were spread out all over the site.
“By the time of the fireworks, it was overwhelmed and social distancing was not able to be maintained,” Dr. Mark Johnson, executive director of the health department told CBS4 on Sunday. “I felt with my discussions with top management that they were very, very concerned about this, they were going to do everything they possibly could.”
There were signs posted on the speedway property and the business blocked every other row to help with social distancing. Some fans who attended the event told CBS4 they saw hand sanitizer handed out and masks to spectators. But a few of those same fans admitted that it got crowded by the end of the night and it became difficult to keep your distance. They also said that a fraction of those attending chose to wear masks, even if staff did at the event.
“It’s a calculated risk, and I think if you don’t want to go to a large event like that, don’t go,” Ingram told CBS4 on Monday. “I don’t think it’s fair to pick on him as a business guy, I think he has a right to have that show, it’s kind of our right.”
Bandimere did not return CBS4’s request for an interview or comment on Monday but social media posts about the event shared John Bandimere, Jr. said it was not just a drag race but a rally for freedom. Fans and supporters of the Speedway echoed that view and some Facebook comments downplayed the need to social distance and worry about COVID-19. JeffCo Public Health acknowledged they are aware of that sentiment and would appreciate the chance to address those skeptical of the impact of the coronavirus.
“I wish I could have them spend a day in an intensive care unit or in a hospital that is overwhelmed with cases so that they could see that this is different and this is a very serious disease,” Johnson said in a video conference call.
Ingram understands the concerns of spreading the virus, he says he takes necessary precautions at his own business to keep customers and his staff safe. But he felt it was worth the chance of contracting coronavirus to celebrate the Fourth of July.
“It’s our Independence Day, and that’s something we celebrate, and something I’ve always celebrated with a large crowd, and that would be at Bandimere,” he said.