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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Racing fans will once again be able to attend events at the Red Cedar Speedway — to a greater or lesser extent — depending on the number of cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Dunn County.
The Dunn County Board at the March 17 meeting approved standard operating procedures for the Red Cedar Speedway’s 2021 racing season and approved policies, procedures, guidelines and protocols for the Red Cedar Racing Association for the 2021 racing season.
The resolution and supporting documents outlining the guidelines and procedures for automobile racing was the result of a compromise worked out by the Red Cedar Racing Association and KT Gallagher, Dunn County’s public health administrator, said Charles Maves, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the county board’s facilities committee.
The facilities committee discussed the guidelines and protocols and then moved the resolution forward, he said.
The guidelines and procedures are the perfect example of how to open up events while still keeping the public safe, Maves said.
Testing for the coronavirus will determine how many people can be in the stands on Friday night, and the number of people allowed will be determined on Wednesday for the following Friday, he said.
The resolution also authorizes the facilities committee to approve any changes determined to be necessary and appropriate in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Red Cedar Racing Association worked closely with Gallagher and will continue working with the county’s health department during the racing season, said Tim Niehoff, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the facilities committee.
The Red Cedar Racing Association has an agreement with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department, and deputies are at the track every week, he said, adding that the sheriff’s department will enforce the regulations included with the resolution.
The procedures and guidelines are “a good faith effort and an agreement that benefits both parties,” said Gary Stene, county board supervisor from Colfax.
This will be a good opportunity for the Red Cedar Racing Association and Mark Thomas, president of the association, to encourage fans to get vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2, said Mike Kneer, county board supervisor from Menomonie.
Vaccinations “will put fans in the stands,” he said.
Larry Bjork, county board supervisor from Menomonie, said he supported the work that’s been done on the policies and procedures because they are “a gateway” to doing things right and to starting to bring the county back to normal.
Bjork said he hoped the ideas contained in the resolution could be used to build on for other activities in the county, such as the Dunn County Fair.
This is a step forward to getting back to normal, said Mike Rogers, county board supervisor from Menomonie and also a member of the facilities committee.
Tim Lienau, county board supervisor from Menomonie, said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the plan for the races.
Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax, asked for a roll call vote on the motion to approve the Red Cedar Speedway’s standard operating procedure for the 2021 racing season and the Red Cedar Racing Association’s policies, procedures, guidelines and protocols for the 2021 racing season.
Since the vote was rather close the last time the county board voted on racing at the Red Cedar Speedway, Bjork said he thought a roll call vote was in order.
The county board voted 11 “yes” to 18 “no” about racing at the Red Cedar Speedway at the board’s June 17, 2020, meeting following a lengthy discussion about the merits of allowing hundreds of people to attend automobile races during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dunn County Board approved the resolution to allow automobile racing this year with 28 voting “yes” and one voting “no.”
Diane Morehouse, county board supervisor from Menomonie, voted “no.”
The race event schedule at the Red Cedar Speedway runs from April 9 through August 27 and from September 23 through September 27.
According to the Red Cedar Speedway’s standard operating procedure for the 2021 racing season, the grandstand at the Red Cedar Speedway in the Dunn County Rec Park can be at 100 percent capacity (1,465 people) if the COVID-19 infection rate is .65 cases per day in Dunn County or 4.55 cases per week.
The Red Cedar Speedway can be at 75 percent capacity (1,098 people) if the infection rate is 1.29 cases per day in Dunn County or 9.03 cases per week.
The Red Cedar Speedway can be at 60 percent capacity (879 people) if the infection rate is 1.6 cases per day in Dunn County or 11.3 cases per week.
A capacity of 50 percent (732 people) at the Red Cedar Speedway will be allowed if there are 1.94 cases per day or 13.58 cases per week in Dunn County.
A capacity of 35 percent (513 people) at the Red Cedar Speedway will be allowed if there are 2.6 cases per day or 18.1 cases per week in Dunn County.
A capacity of 25 percent (366) people will be allowed if there are 3.24 cases per day or 22.68 cases per week in Dunn County.
No grandstand attendance will be allowed unless the percent positivity rate is less than 5 percent (number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests).
If the maximum permitted grandstand attendance is limited to zero, the Red Cedar Racing Association may cancel a scheduled race event, or subject to the approval by Dunn County, may be allowed to hold a weekly racing event without a grandstand attendance or change the event to a “test and tune” without grandstand attendance.
When the grandstand is closed to the general public, no concessions will be sold on the grandstand side of the property.
If there are unforeseen circumstances related to the pandemic not included in the Standard Operating Procedure, Dunn County has the ability to determine no racing event will be held.
The Red Cedar Racing Association’s policies, procedures, guidelines and protocols for the 2021 racing season set the following rules for the grandstand:
• Attendees will be required to wear a mask so long as a mask mandate is in effect.
• Employees selling tickets must wear a face mask.
• Plexiglass sneeze/cough guards will be installed in ticket and concessions windows.
• Tickets will be available for purchase online at “myrace pass” to encourage people to buy tickets prior to arriving at the Red Cedar Speedway to shorten and discourage lines.
• Groups will be encouraged to send one person through the ticket line to buy tickets for the entire group to limit the number of people in line.
• Hand sanitizer stations will be set up at the front gate, grandstand entrance and exit, in front of the grandstands on the main walkway and in all restrooms.
• Soap and hand sanitizer will be provided in the restrooms (as always).
• Entrance and ticket line social distancing markers will be set up at the recommended guidelines of six feet.
• Money handling practices will follow restaurant guidelines.
• Only the east and west side ticket windows will be open. This is a distance greater than six feet.
• Signs and public address announcements will remind all attendees of the importance of social distancing.
• All concession workers must wear masks and food prep personnel must also wear gloves until recommendations change.
• Employees must wash hands frequently (every 30 minutes).
• Tissue will be available for coughs and sneezes.
• No public seating area will be provided in the concession area or the grandstand area.
• Only the north and south concession windows will be open. The middle concession window will remain closed for the 2021 racing season, which will allow for a distance of nine feet and nine inches between the two windows.
• Beer sales will only be made from the west side of the grandstand concession stand out of one window.
• All beverages will be sold only in individually sealed containers.
• All food will be individually wrapped in single use containers.
• Condiments will only be available in single use packets.
• Social distancing markers will be set up outside concession stands and grandstand sides leading to the order/pay window.
• Restroom cleanliness will be checked throughout each event, and the restrooms will be disinfected regularly.
• Portable fans will be put into each restroom facility and the main door will be left open to help cycle the air to improve air quality. The fans will be remain “on” for the duration of each event.
• Social distancing signs will be posted throughout the pit area and pit entrance, and social distancing will be marked for those purchasing entrance.
• A new sanitized pen will be provided for each person to use. Waiver form entrance signatures by all people entering the pit area are required by insurance laws, sanctioning rules and filling out information to be used the track personnel throughout the night’s events.
• Competitors will be encouraged to pre-register electronically prior to arriving at the Red Cedar Speedway.
• Drivers’ meetings will be conducted by intercom system so race teams can remain in their pit.
• Pit concessions will be sold out of the furthest east and west side of the concession window.
• No beer sales will be permitted from the pit concession stand.
• An open dialogue will continue between Dunn County officials and the Red Cedar Racing Association to discuss any additions or changes county officials suggest for the 2021 racing season.