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The Drags Are Back At The Plex

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 5 2020

The Texas Motorplex will feature live racing.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Texas’ first fan-attended sporting event since the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown in March will be staged by the American Drag Racing League today and Saturday, when the season-opening Dragpalooza runs at Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex in Ennis.

With guidelines instituted by the facility and ADRL to promote social distancing and spectator safety, the event will be open to fans in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott and protocols laid out by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). That order will limit attendance to 50 percent of listed capacity of 36,800.

“We’re very thankful to Gov. Abbott and his decision to allow us to open this event to the people,” ADRL President Mel Roth said in a statement from corporate headquarters in Jupiter, Fla. “We as a nation have been through a lot in recent months and we hope the ADRL can provide a safe and fun release for those who have been quarantined during the pandemic.”

Texas Motorplex General Manager Andy Carter and his staff have been working with the governor’s office on opening the facility while promoting safety and a healthy environment for racers, crews, staff and spectators.

“Gov. Abbott’s leadership throughout this time has allowed us to be the first motorsports venue in Texas to allow fans to watch the sport we love and we are extremely appreciative of what he’s done for us and the state,” Carter said. “We’re taking every precaution to provide a healthy outlet for fans and racers who have been at home the last two months and we’re looking forward to a great race here.”

The Motorplex has purchased permanent hand sanitizing stations and will have employees monitoring and cleaning these stations throughout the event. Additionally, employees will be staffing the restrooms to ensure cleanliness.

The Motorplex is providing signage and visual markers to designate social distancing for any lines entering spectator viewing areas, restrooms or concessions. Additional security and customer service representatives, which may be similar to that Virtual Coworker, have been hired to enforce social distancing throughout the facility. 

Pro Extreme showcases some of the nation’s quickest eighth-mile drag racing. More than 30 Pro Extreme cars are expected at The Plex for ADRL’s 2020 opener, including Texans Frankie “Madman” Taylor, Brandon McKinney, Jeff Jones, Brandon Pesz and former IHRA champion and NHRA nitro pilot Terry Haddock. Other ADRL classes to be featured are Big-Tire No Time, Small-Tire No Time, 5.0 Index, 6.0 Index, Pro Jr. Dragster and Top Jr. Dragster. Both days of racing will finish under the lights with jet cars and fireworks.

Meanwhile, INDYCAR’s Genesys 300 will offer fans a motorsports alternative as kick-off event of the delayed 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season schedule Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Run as a non-spectator event for the first time in a history dating to 1997, the Genesys 300 will be aired live on NBC beginning at 7 p.m. (CDT). NBC Sports Network will air a half-hour preview program starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Genesys 300 will operate under a condensed, one-day program that will include practice, qualifying and a 200-lap race _ down from the originally scheduled 248 laps around TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval. 

TMS President/General Manager Eddie Gossage reiterated the idea of staging “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race” without fans in the grandstands goes against his instincts as a promoter and businessman.

“But I realized we didn’t have a choice _ we either do this without a crowd or not at all,” Gossage said when the race date finally was confirmed by INDYCAR President Jay Frye on May 7. “It’s a good thing to do it, but I want the fans to know I’m on their team. My team doesn’t come to work every day to put races on in front of empty grandstands.”

Dragpalooza will be carried live on SpeedVideo.com for those unable to attend or for fans wanting in-depth coverage while watching from the track. The full event schedule, along with up-to-the-minute information, can be accessed via ADRL’s official Facebook Dragpalooza event page.

As always, ADRL tickets are free and can be found at a number of North Texas-area businesses. Tickets also can be printed at home by visiting ADRLDrags.com.

The Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Friday Night Drags summer racing series at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth has been canceled for the 2020 season. The six-week, amateur “run-what-you-brung” eighth-mile drag racing series held in June and July for the previous 11 seasons is slated to return during the summer of 2021.

“The UTI Friday Night Drags program has become a Texas Motor Speedway summer institution because it is a great local community event,” TMS President/General Manager Eddie Gossage said in a statement. “It is family, friends and competitive rivalry all wrapped into one on six consecutive warm Friday nights. I hate it for the competitors and fans alike but look forward to having it back on the schedule in 2021.”

The seven racing categories include Bandit Division, Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Division, Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Modified Division, Snap-on Tools All-Wheel Drive Division, Super Car Division, Texas Born Performance Black Smoke Warrior Division and the Summit Racing Equipment Outlaw Division. 

“I also want to thank everyone at UTI, Summit Racing Equipment, Snap-on, Texas Born Performance and In-N-Out Burger for their great support of the program over the years,” Gossage said. “We appreciate their understanding of the decision to return to racing in 2021 and we look forward to continuing our successful partnerships with them.”


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 5 2020
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