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Eldora Speedway donates nearly 3,000 facemasks to community

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Eldora Speedway has joined the effort in battling the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, donating critical supply

General manager Roger Slack said he began planning to secure facemasks in case Eldora Speedway decided to hold a few events without a crowd but needing masks for employees, their families and race teams.

Working with friends in Shanghai (who had warned about the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak), Slack took delivery on 2,800 masks from overseas last week – after the Centers for Disease Control had recommended limiting gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

HELPING OUT: Team switches to manufacturing facemasks

With Eldora Speedway remaining closed to the public (and its staff working from home since mid-March), Slack put out word in the region around the Rossburg, Ohio, dirt track that he would like to donate the masks to emergency workers who needed personal protective equipment. Within 30 minutes of contacting local hospitals and officials, all of the masks had been committed.

Slack said anywhere from 50 to 200 went to several local volunteer rescue squads that were rationing one mask per volunteer. More than 1,000 masks went to PremierHealth, which staffs Eldora’s infield care center with members of its Level 1 Trauma Center at Miami Valley Hospital and supports nearly every event with standby service via its CareFlight medical helicopter service.

“Nobody was greedy, they all just asked for whatever we could spare,” Slack told NBCSports.com

The half-mile track sent hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves and masks from its infield care center to a locally based manufacturing company that’s an essential business and was running low on personal protective equipment for its employees.

Eldora was scheduled to open its 67th season April 18, but Slack said last week “there will be early season events affected and postponed, but the situation changes so rapidly that it’s difficult to know how many or what dates are available for rescheduling.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consectuive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.