Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he has spoken with NASCAR amid push for races during coronavirus pandemic

Jack Baer
·3 min read

As virtually the entire sports world remains shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, one governor is pushing harder than any other for sporting events to be held in his state.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis recently deemed sports and entertainment as “essential business” and therefore exempt from the state’s stay-at-home order provided they take proper precautions, such as closing events to the general public.

That decision initially pertained to WWE, but DeSantis has now made clear that he wants much more than professional wrestling to come to his state. The governor said Tuesday that he would welcome events such as NASCAR races and golf matches in order to help people who are “starved for content.”

DeSantis took that a bit further Wednesday, saying he had spoken to NASCAR vice chairperson Lesa Kennedy and outright saying he wants the company to hold races.

Florida Gov. talking with NASCAR, wants a race

A transcript of DeSantis’ comments:

I mentioned NASCAR, I talked to Lesa Kennedy, I want them to race. I think the public would like to see — it’s going to be on TV. I understand you’re not going to fill up Daytona Speedway right now. I’m not suggesting you do, but I think if there’s content that can be created, I think that that’s a good thing. Even Dr. Fauci said, televised sports is a positive thing.

There’s not a lot for people to look at right now. I think you’re starting to see, it does start to wear on some people after a while. My view would be “Let’s do what we need to do to stop the spread, to make sure we’re flattening the curve,” but at the same time, you can give people some outlets. Maybe that’s with programming on TV, maybe that’s with essential activities which I’ve supported from the beginning.

A discussion with Kennedy is somewhat notable considering she was recently named part of President Donald Trump’s committee on re-opening the country, a group that includes several other commissioners and influential team owners.

DeSantis notably does not say what NASCAR’s response to his suggestion was, and that could clearly go either way. He also mentions the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said earlier Tuesday that he believes sporting events could be held provided that athletes are kept in strict isolation, tested every week and play in empty stadiums.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Miami Beach Convention Center to discuss the U.S. Army Corps' building of a coronavirus field hospital inside the facility on April 8, 2020. (Photo by Al Diaz / various sources / AFP) (Photo by AL DIAZ/AFP via Getty Images)
How much is Ron DeSantis willing to pay for NASCAR races? (Photo by AL DIAZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course, as Yahoo Sports’ Nick Bromberg broke down in response to DeSantis’ initial comments, it’s not quite as simple with NASCAR. Stay-at-home orders in North Carolina currently prevent NASCAR teams from working and car testing remains on hold.

There’s also the moral question of — even with maximum precautions — making hundreds of people travel across states for a single event. NASCAR has also already had at least one employee test positive for the coronavirus.

None of that is likely to stop DeSantis from continuing to bang that drum, or possibly other sports from flocking to Florida. As of Wednesday, Florida ranks eighth in the country in positive COVID-19 tests with 22,511, and 609 deaths.

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