Memorial Day Classic Postponed, Thunder Road Weighs Plans to Reopen

Published: May. 21, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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The special red, white, and blue checkered flag will have to remain in its holster for now. Thunder Road announced earlier this week that there would be no Memorial Day Classic on Sunday afternoon. Instead, the nation's site of excitement is just one of the many local sports venues in our area still waiting to reopen.

"Everything's done," co-owner Cris Michaud said. "We've had our inspections and we've applied for all our permits, everything's in place. To be honest with you if they told us we could race this morning, we could probably put on a race this afternoon."

They've used the extra time to extend the wall past the finish line after last year's accident, and Michaud and his daughter have even made some cosmetic improvements.

"It's allowed us to do some sprucing up, a lot of painting," he said.

Even when the state and local governments give Thunder Road the green light to return to action, there's still a question of what race days will look like. NASCAR has given the racing world an idea of how tracks can reopen safely and effectively without fans, as they're halfway through a span of 4 races in 11 days.

"We've been watching," Michaud said. "Obviously NASCAR has a boatload of TV money that we don't have, but you look at their safety procedures and they're doing it right."

Thunder Road will have to be a bit more creative without a TV deal, but Michaud says they can make it work for the time being with a limited number of fans.

"If we were going in stages and it was gonna last a week, two weeks, three weeks and then we'd increase it as the safety went, it can be done with 25% I think," he said. "Hopefully you'd only lose a little bit or break even."

There are more than 3 weeks to go before the next race on the schedule, but neighbors shouldn't be surprised if they hear engines roaring on Fisher Road before then.

"What we've been approved for is we're doing some private testing right now," Michaud said. "I think it has helped us to educate the ones that have come. We've had a few cars in here and everybody stayed in their own pit. They really respected the procedures that we put in place."

Michaud says they're going to continue to play it by ear until they get the government go-ahead to resume racing at the nation's site of excitement. As of right now they are still planning to run the first of their weekly races on Friday June 12th.

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