NH racetrack that violated orders gets OK to open before others

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) A New Hampshire racetrack that violated state orders during the coronavirus pandemic will be allowed to reopen this weekend ahead of other similar businesses.

Riverside Speedway in Groveton held races in late May despite being warned by police that doing so would violate the state's order prohibiting large gatherings.

After being told the state was planning legal action, the owner postponed the rest of the season and then sued Gov. Chris Sununu over the restrictions.

A judge held a hearing on the speedway's request for an emergency order blocking the restrictions Friday, a day after Sununu announced that racetracks would be allowed to reopen Monday.

While the case proceeds, lawyers for both sides agreed that Riverside could hold races this weekend if it follows rules regarding limited capacity, social distancing and cleaning.

Joe Bassett, general manager at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, said he doesn’t think it’s fair that Riverside is getting special treatment after violating the order.

“But he’s between a rock and a hard place, as all short tracks are,” he said. “We have limited time in summer to make our money, yet we have bills 12 months of the year.”

Bassett said his track will likely reopen June 19, though it will be a scramble. He asked fans to be patient.

“I’ve got three weeks’ worth of planning to make it work in a week,” he said. “But we’ll get things rolling.”

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