Ace Speedway in North Carolina. Home of Death Race 2020?

These people won’t protect their own lives. Few masks. No social distancing. I have family, friends and work colleagues in North Carolina. I worry about their health. I don’t know how to protect them from deadly public health failure and mistakes made by Trump and others in their state. What can I do to help them?

After I saw the photos from this event I wrote letters to local reporters in North Carolina who covered the non-mask wearing, non-social distancing observing fans at the opening of Ace Speedway in North Carolina on May 23rd.

Subject: Will you follow up on your story on May 23, at Ace Speedway?

Hi Jeff and Andrew:

I’m following up on your Winston Salem Journal story at Ace Speedway on May 23rd. (News Observer story) and I saw the photos. Few masks. 100’s of people close together. Will you be doing a follow up?

Race fans in line to purchase tickets at the Ace Speedway on Saturday, May 23, 2020 in the rural Alamance County community of Altamahaw near Elon, N.C. Photo by Robert Willett News Observer. Composite by Spocko. Data source: NBC News

You might have seen photos and news reports about the Lake of the Ozarks pool parties. It led St. Louis County Executive Sam Page to issue a statement on Tuesday telling residents of his county that, if they were at the Lake party this past weekend, they should self-quarantine.”

[Left photo]Bowman Gray driver Justin Taylor, his wife Tiffany and friend Heather Branch [Right photo] Bowman Gray race fans Chris Shepherd (from left) Rebecca Craver, Sheila Reinger and Scott Reinger of Kernersville.  Photos by Walt Unks Winston Salem Journal. Composite by Spocko. Data from @NCDHHS

Will the Alamance County executive do the same?
I’d call them but I’m just a blogger. You might get an answer.
I sent out a tweet with these attached photos from Robert Willett of News Observer and Walt Unks at Winston Salem Journal

I could do a story about the politics behind the pressure to get the venue permission to open, the lack of enforcement of the Phase 2 guidelines, the failure to prepare to trace anyone if someone infected is found to have attended. I would write it in about 21 days. But I’m an outsider and nobody cares what some liberal in SF thinks.

You spoke to several people for the story. If there is a spike in cases, it would be great if you to spoke to the family of the sick or dead whose illness can be traced to that outbreak (which will be difficult, but IS possible) or the doctors, nurses and EMTs that have to deal with the sick.

Clemmons Medical Center employees shoot video and wave to firefighters as they parade through the parking lot at Clemmons Medical Center, Monday, April 20, 2020. Photo Walt Unks, Winston Salem Journal

(BTW, the photographer Walt Unks did the story about firefighters honoring healthcare workers at Clemmons Medical Center, Kernersville Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on April 20th. I’d lover to hear from them.

Nurses Christy Willson (from left), Jay Concepcion, Tammy Craven and Frances La Hoz wave to firefighters as they parade through the parking lot at Kernersville Medical Center, Monday, April 20, 2020. Photos by Walt Unks

I’m interested in hearing from the people quoted in the story who made the event happen like Robert Turner, the co-owner of the track, his son and Sheriff Terry Johnson.

Then I’d like to hear from people you quoted who attended without wearing a mask or social distancing like Dave Magbee, 59, who made the short drive from Burlington. Kelly Britt, a retired postal worker from Charlotte and Bobby Nifong of Winston-Salem.

Dan Green of Winston-Salem, with daughter Emily, 10 Photo by Walt Unks Winston Salem Journal

I’m especially interested in hearing from the people in the photos with children:

Zack Craven holding his son, Colton, 10 months. Nick Todd of Alamance holding his son, Jaxson, 9 months. Photos by Walt Unks, Winston Salem Journal. Composite by Spocko. Data by N.C. DHHS

I’d like to hear from those people, NOT from the handful of people who made an effort to wear masks. Its become clear to me that some people view those who take precautions as scolds who are eager to say “I told you so!” when people get sick and die.

BTW, I see that North Carolina has a tracking program called NC DETECT (The North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool -PDF file) It’s a  statewide, electronic, real-time public health surveillance system. You might want to talk to NCDHHS about how it was used to track illnesses after the Ace Speedway event.

I’m guessing you spoke to more people who didn’t wear masks at the event, but their quotes didn’t make the story.  I’d like to hear from them after they hear about an outbreak. Would they still attend? Would they wear a mask? If not, why not?

Apparently for some people a disease is only real when it happens to people just like them in their family. Maybe if these people said “I went to Ace Speedway, I didn’t wear a mask and someone in MY family got sick and died. PLEASE wear a mask!” people would listen to them.

Tim Brown celebrates his win in the Pro Modified Race on opening night at ACE Speedway, Saturday, May 23, 2020. Photo Walt Unks

I would also like to hear from the race car drivers. If they were to say. ‘I love to see fans in the stands, but it’s too dangerous. We’ll try this again after a vaccine. For now we’ll race on TV to empty stands.” That would be a good way to show they support the guidelines that save the lives of their fans, not just the wallets of the owners.

Finally, one of the reasons that I’m writing you is that you know the people in your community. I don’t. You clearly tried to be respectful of the people in your story. You might know how to reach them in a way a small time blogger in SF, in a liberal blue state can’t.

Here’s the deal, I have family, friends and work colleagues in NC and I worry about their health. I don’t know how to protect them from deadly public health mistakes made by others in their state.

You might know how to reach your readers where they live and keep them alive. Please try.

Thank you.

P.S. Here is my most recent post on the need for masks. Want To Reopen Retail? Everyone Must Wear Masks

I’ve been reading the research on mask wearing and it’s compelling. If you aren’t already please, please, PLEASE wear a mask when you are covering these events.

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