MONROE — Evergreen Speedway is coming back. And it’s also coming to a small screen near you.
Snohomish County’s racetrack is set to resume racing on June 27, and while races will initially be run without spectators in the stands, fans will still be able to catch the action on television.
With the coronavirus pandemic restricting the ability of fans to attend races, Evergreen has partnered with CBS affiliate CW11 to broadcast every race at the track this season. Taped broadcasts will be aired on Sunday evenings in two-hour blocks beginning at either 5 or 6 p.m. The broadcasts will be from the previous weekend’s races.
“I’m not sure any other short track in America has a weekly racing series where they show every class on broadcast TV,” Evergreen Speedway president Doug Hobbs said. “There might be some on a small cable station or on pay-per-view. They’ll be showing everything from youth hornets to school bus races, everything will be shown on TV.”
Evergreen’s 2020 season was originally scheduled to start on March 28. However, the season was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. On May 14 Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced motorsports were allowed to begin practice sessions, and on June 5 Inslee announced that counties in Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase plan for reopening could begin spectatorless competitions.
Hobbs said Evergreen decided to hold off on starting races until June 27 to make sure the track was fully prepared.
“We wanted to make sure all the protocols were in place to make sure we’re compliant with the Governor’s proclamation, that we had all the (protective personal equipment), that everyone was trained,” Hobbs said.
Evergreen has been conducting practice sessions for drivers since May 16. Hobbs said that’s allowed the track to develop a protocol for racers. All team members will have their temperatures taken by forehead thermometer before being allowed into the venue. Cars will be spaced in the pits so that they can be worked on from both sides and still maintain physical distancing. No more than five crew members outside the immediate family group will be allowed.
The track will start the season paying drivers 75% of the normal weekly purse. Payouts will increase to 100% once the track is allowed to have 25% spectator capacity.
When might a limited number of fans be allowed? That is yet to be determined, but Hobbs hopes it happens quickly.
“We’re actually petitioning to open at 25% in Phase 3,” Hobbs said. “Whether we get it or not, we don’t know. But I feel that with gyms, theaters and restaurants opening at 75%, we’re an outdoor activity and I think we can get small crowds to build on for moving into Phase 4.”
The earliest Snohomish County could apply to move into Phase 3 is June 26. The county would need to meet criteria for COVID-19 cases and preparedness to move into Phase 3.
Unfortunately, Evergreen’s biggest events — Summer Showdown, the Mark Galloway — had to be canceled. But Hobbs is hoping the television exposure will help compensate.
“From a marketing standpoint we think (being on television) is quite fabulous,” Hobbs said. “It’s going to be something I think everyone will be proud of. We have several camera positions, we’ll be using a lot of GoPros, we’ll be interacting with the drivers. Like anything new it will start off and just grow from there. But we’re very excited to partner up, it’s something were we can really showcase not only the Speedway, but Evergreen State Fair Park, the City of Monroe and Snohomish County.”
Five of the track’s 10 classes will race on opening night: Pro Late Models, Mini Stocks, Hornets, Legends and Pro 4 Trucks.