MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4) – The owners of Bandimere Speedway in Morrison held what they called a “Stop the COVID Chaos” rally Tuesday night to protest measures by Gov. Jared Polis and Jefferson County Public Health intended to slow the spread of coronavirus. Despite statewide requirements to cap crowds at 175 people for outdoor events, hundreds of people filled the bleachers of the Colorado race track during the rally, many of whom were not wearing masks. There were signs encouraging social distancing as well as hand washing stations, and every other row of the bleachers was roped off.
“Look at this place, it’s huge. 175 people? That doesn’t even count the racers,” said one woman who met her husband at Bandimere and came to show her support for the family.
While racing was planned, it never happened Tuesday. Speakers included members of the Bandimere family as well as Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, a Republican, and conservative pundit Michelle Malkin.
Neville and Malkin recently filed a lawsuit intended to block Polis’ executive orders but the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear it, though Neville told the crowd it was filed again in district court Monday.
“We are heading into the sixth month of emergency powers being exerted by Gov. Jared Polis and it needs to stop,” said Randy Corporon, who represents Neville and Malkin.
John Bandimere Jr. said he will file a similar lawsuit on Wednesday, “since Governor Polis has not honored the spirit of the emergency powers law by repeatedly extending and expanding his authority and, regardless, because his Executive Orders and Public Health Orders are unconstitutional.”
Following a slate of speakers, Bandimere invited the crowd to leave the bleachers and come down to the track for what he called a “historic photo.” Attendees were dressed in red, white and blue colors and displayed American and Colorado flags for the photo.
In July, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the speedway prior to an Independence Day event that was expected to draw thousands more than the crowd limits in place due to COVID-19. Weeks later the speedway reopened after reaching an agreement with Jefferson County Public Health.
“We’ve negotiated, we’ve compromised, we’ve practically begged the Jefferson County health department to allow us just to run our business,” Bandimere said at the time.
Jefferson County Public Health released a letter sent to John C. and Tami Bandimere which reads, in part, “It has come to Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) attention that Bandimere Speedway is planning to hold a “Stop the COVID Chaos” Rally at its facility on September 1, 2020, which will include racing on the track and a group photo on the track of all attendees. The press release issued on social media on August 30 does not indicate whether Banidmere intends to put a cap on the number of attendees, but instead invites “everyone” to join the rally.
“As you are aware, under JCPH Order 20-007, all events in excess of 175 attendees are required to submit a plan for pre-approval. As of August 30, JCPH has received no plan for this event from Bandimere Speedway or any of the co-hosts. While events are permitted to occur without a plan if there are 175 or fewer attendees, please keep in mind that all events must comply with the requirements of CDPHE Public Health Order 20-28 Section I,H,4, including mandatory social distancing and face covering requirements.”