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Ace Speedway readies for racing when restrictions ease

Ace Speedway
Ace Speedway photo

By Adam Smith

From on hold and waiting to on deck and revving, Ace Speedway is preparing to move ahead with the start of its competition season in the coming week.

The race track’s rescheduled opener for Friday night has become an atypical situation befitting these unprecedented times of the coronavirus outbreak, with Robert Turner and Jason Turner, who own and operate the speedway, consulting state health officials and local law enforcement while fielding interested inquiries at a high volume along the way.

Ace Speedway
Ace Speedway photo

Ace and its four-tenths of a mile asphalt layout figure to provide the arena for Alamance County’s first live sports event in more than two months — and one of the first across North Carolina for that matter — since the restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of the pandemic intervened. Robert Turner said spectators will be able to enter and take part at Ace.

“We’re going to have an unbelievable show,” he said. “The racing teams are ready; the families of the racing teams are ready; people are ready to come watch a race. The phone has been ringing for weeks and weeks and weeks. We just had to wait until the proper time to be able to do it.”

The arrival of Friday night’s races coincides with the second phase of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to reopen the state, which is set to take effect at 5 p.m. that day. Among the allowances outlined, Phase 2 permits gatherings at entertainment venues under reduced capacities.

The Turners have sought guidance in meetings with representatives from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. Robert Turner said precautionary measures such as sanitation stations and social distancing markers will be in place around Ace, and track workers will be mindful of the procedures.

“We’re doing everything we can,” he said. “With that being said, it’s still up to the individuals, our fans, to do their part. That’s what this relies on more than anything.

“We’ve had several calls where people want to come, but they’ve got a family member that does have some health issues. They want to know if they should feel safe to come to the race track, and all we can do is tell them we’re doing our part. If they’ve got health issues or underlying issues, maybe they need to stay home until those are clarified. Or if they don’t feel safe coming, we recommend that they just stay home. People who have fear of the virus, I don’t think they’re going to come. I think they’re going to wait this thing out a little further.”

Other groups of more anticipatory callers have asked about buying tickets ahead of Friday night, to ensure their admittance in advance. But the speedway isn’t equipped to handle those types of requests at the moment, Turner said.


Ace hasn’t held races since its traditional season-ending Rodney Cook Classic in October. Coronavirus concerns wiped out the track’s first five race nights that had been scheduled for this season, beginning with the March 27 opener.

Ace Speedway
Ace Speedway photo

NASCAR’s elite Cup Series returns to action today at Darlington Raceway under a number of safety protocols, most notably with no fans allowed in the 47,000-seat facility. Regionally, on the grassroots levels of the sport where Ace resides, Hickory Motor Speedway resumed racing Saturday night without spectators in attendance. Same for 311 Speedway in Stokes County, which held its third race night of the month on Saturday, all of them minus fans in the stands.

Racing without fans isn’t viable for Ace financially, as Turner has said. Beyond paying the bills and covering the operating costs at the 51-acre property, Ace depends on money generated at the gate and its concession stands to help fund drivers’ purses.

“We’re paying attention to the other tracks and that’s why we couldn’t open up any earlier,” Turner said, “because there’s no way we can do it not having people in the stands. And we’re not set up to do pay-per-view. The ones that have done pay-per-view, I haven’t heard where any of them did well enough to where it was like having people in the stands. We’re just not in a position to do that.”

Meanwhile, with Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia having closed for the 2020 season due to the pandemic, and places such as Caraway Speedway near Asheboro, South Boston Speedway in Virginia and popular Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem sitting idle in a state of limbo, Ace’s car counts for Friday night and beyond undoubtedly are in for an increase.

Turner said he wouldn’t be surprised by a turnout of 20 Late Models and 15-20 cars in the Limited Late Models and Modifieds divisions. Mini Stocks, which regularly packs its class, perhaps could have as many as 40 cars show up to race. Ace’s new Pro Modz division, featuring standouts from Bowman Gray and Modifieds touring series, will make for an additional special attraction.

“That’s going to be a show within itself,” Turner said of the potential exploits in the Pro Modz class. “We’ve got a lot of our regular guys that are ready to race, and we’ve got a lot of other people that are coming because they’re ready to race. So opening night is going to be big. We’ve got a lot of people hunting for a place to race.”


By Adam Smith Times-News Posted at 2:01 AM