After a more than two-month drought of 200 mph-plus speed and roaring V8s due to the coronavirus pandemic, motor racing hungry fans were treated to a NASCAR race with a difference on May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, from the comfort of their homes.
In an event dubbed “The Real Heroes 400” honoring healthcare workers, driver Kevin Harvick won the race in a spectator-free racetrack to capture his 50th career win.
Meanwhile, in Formula One, the coronavirus-hit season will finally get underway with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. After a dramatic 11th-hour cancellation of the season opening race in Australia, two days before drivers were due to compete on the Albert Park track in Melbourne on March 15, all subsequent races up until the Austrian Grand Prix had been either canceled or postponed.
In fact, to try to make up for lost races, the Red Bull Ring will host two events over two conse
Austrian health minister Rudolf Anschober commented that both races had been approved after the Formula One organizers put forward a comprehensive, professional security plan to prevent the spread of the virus. “In addition to strict hygiene measures, the plan also provides for regular tests and health checks for the teams and all other employees,” Anschober mentioned.
The Red Bull Ring’s relatively remote location and local airport has made it the ideal venue for F1 in the current circumstances, while rates of infection and a death toll of less than 700 in Austria have been relatively smaller than other European countries.
What will be interesting to see for F1 race fans, apart from the empty grandstands, is how the various teams will proactively honor the frontline healthcare workers. NASCAR took the lead in South Carolina earlier this month when the names of healthcare workers currently battling the coronavirus pandemic replaced driver’s names above their driver-side windows.
Given the fact that, with over 38,000 deaths, the U.K. has the highest number of coronavirus-related fatalities in Europe, and the fact that the U.K. just happens to be the home to the majority of F1 teams—including McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams—we can expect to see a heightened level of virus awareness and appreciation for frontline workers from those teams