In less than two weeks, NASCAR engines will shift from idle to full song as the 2020 racing schedule resumes May 17 at Darlington Raceway. The teams preparing for that restart date are already revving up, but with a precautionary vibe.
Last week, NASCAR officials issued a tightly condensed May itinerary for getting back up to speed after roughly two months off during the rising spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The Cup Series’ first two races back are set for the historic South Carolina track with two more to follow in quick succession at Charlotte Motor Speedway — four events in an 11-day span.
Teams have restarted prep work at their respective shops to get cars ready for those events, but Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are among organizations reporting that they are doing so with safeguards in place. Those protocols include regular health screenings, limiting the number of personnel on site and staggering their work schedules, practicing social distancing and requiring facemasks and other protective coverings during their shifts.
Back at work and staying smart. #SHRacing employees take their jobs and their health seriously. Racing is able to return because of the safety measures our industry is following. We all have to do our part. 🙏#NASCAR pic.twitter.com/p9or9wfAxt
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) May 5, 2020
Similar health measures will be in place once teams return to the track, where those first races back will be held with social-distancing precautions and other safety directives. NASCAR officials have maintained that all 36 races will be run this season; a revised Cup Series schedule beyond a May 27 event at Charlotte has not yet been released.
The preparations have come as teams adhere to federal, state and local guidelines, with several organizations doing their part to help in manufacturing protective equipment. In North Carolina — the hub for most Cup Series teams — a stay-at-home order is in place through at least May 8, but Governor Roy Cooper said April 23 that race shops may operate as essential business.
That order gave teams the go-ahead to begin preparations for a busy end to May. Charlie Langenstein — a veteran, title-winning mechanic with StarCom Racing — was among those back at it Monday, detailing the team’s work and its precautionary measures on social media. Langenstein said the team took its primary No. 00 Chevrolet earmarked for the postponed Atlanta event that was scheduled March 15th and retooled it for Darlington duty; two StarCom cars were set to go to the NASCAR Research & Development Center for approval.
Langenstein reported that rigorous cleaning processes were in place at the team’s shop, both during and after shifts.
Well today we are all back to work @StarcomRacing. With all safety measures in place including social distancing, wearing a mask, temperature checks, and working in an environment cleaner than a hospital. I am running thru some notes in my office for a few then back on the floor! pic.twitter.com/iCXER4dpDT
— Charlie Langenstein 🏁🇺🇸 (@wrenchtwister00) May 4, 2020