Knoxville Nationals’ 60th running postponed until 2021 by COVID-19

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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The 60th Knoxville Nationals, the most prestigious event in sprint car racing, has been postponed to next year, Knoxville Raceway announced in a release Tuesday.

Instead of the iconic race, the famed dirt track in Iowa will hold a three-night program Aug. 13-15 with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, ending with the Brownells Capitani Classic (previously scheduled for Aug. 9).

Because of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions, the crowd will be limited to 7,000 each night. The Knoxville Nationals typically draw a capacity crowd of 23,000, but track officials said they were unable to have a “viable event plan” approved by local government and state officials to play host to the race, which has been moved to Aug. 11-14, 2021.

“Since March, we have collaborated on several different plans with state and local officials to make the Knoxville Nationals happen,” Brian Bailey, president of the Marion County Fair Board, said. “In the end, we were just up against too many obstacles to make the event happen safely and at the level expected of the Knoxville Nationals. We’re grateful for all of the time, effort and understanding we’ve received throughout the process. Collectively, everyone is disappointed with this outcome.”

Tickets purchased for the 2020 event will be rolled over the 2021 race.

Knoxville Raceway will continue to play host to events on its 2020 schedule with a maximum capacity of 7,000.

Knoxville was the site of the World of Outlaws’ return May 8 after a two-month layoff because of the pandemic. The race was held without fans, but a limited crowd was on site when the track played host to a World of Outlaws doubleheader June 12-13 that was swept by Kyle Larson.

The postponement of the Knoxville Nationals comes on the heels of Monday’s news that the 37th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway being rescheduled to July 21.

The marquee event on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car schedule was slated for July 15-18 but was scrubbed this year because of Ohio Department of Health orders restricting mass gatherings and spectator events at large venues remains in effect during the pandemic.

Here’s the release from Knoxville Raceway on postponing the Nationals:

The Marion County Fair Board and Knoxville Raceway have postponed the 60th running of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s until August 11-14, 2021.

In lieu of the Knoxville Nationals, Knoxville Raceway will partner with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series for three nights of racing, August 13-15, culminating with the Brownells Capitani Classic presented by Great Southern Bank, previously scheduled on Sunday, August 9. The 2020 Brownells Capitani Classic presented by Great Southern Bank will pay $50,000 to win and $3,000 to start. Due to COVID restrictions, only 7,000 spectators will be permitted to attend each night. Further information for this race will be announced at a later date.

“This is devastating for all of us on the fair board and at the track, as we know it is for all our fans, competitors, sponsors, employees and everyone in the racing community,” said Brian Bailey, president of the Marion County Fair Board. “A year without the Knoxville Nationals just feels surreal. This is not the outcome any of us wanted. We can promise everyone, that when the 60th running of the NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s happens, it will be our biggest event yet. We’ll be eager and ready to welcome all 23,000-plus fans back to Knoxville.”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Knoxville Raceway officials have worked diligently with local government and Iowa state officials to craft a safe plan to host the 60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s. Unfortunately, as case numbers continue to rise in the country and mass gatherings continue to be discouraged, the track’s latest and most viable event plan was not approved.

“Since March, we have collaborated on several different plans with state and local officials to make the Knoxville Nationals happen,” Bailey said. “In the end, we were just up against too many obstacles to make the event happen safely and at the level expected of the Knoxville Nationals. We’re grateful for all of the time, effort and understanding we’ve received throughout the process. Collectively, everyone is disappointed with this outcome.”

Ticketing and camping information is listed below. For all inquiries concerning the postponement of the 60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s, please call the ticket office at 641-842-5431.

Information on Tickets and Camping:
Tickets: All tickets purchased for the 2020 NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s will be automatically rolled over to the 2021 event. If fans prefer to forfeit their 2021 tickets and receive a refund, they are encouraged to call the Knoxville Raceway ticket office at 641-842-5431. Existing 60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s tickets will not be valid for the 2021 event. New tickets will be issued.

Tickets for the 2020 Knoxville Nationals will not be transferable to the aforementioned three-day World of Outlaws event this August.

Previously purchased tickets for the Brownells Capitani Classic presented by Great Southern Bank will be refunded. Information on purchasing tickets for the re-scheduled Capitani Classic on August 15 will be announced soon.

Camping: If you have a camping reservation at the race track or at the North Campgrounds during the dates of August 6 – August 15, 2020 and your plans have changed and reservation needs to be modified, please call the ticket office to request a roll over to the 2021 NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s or a refund no later than Wednesday, July 15.

2020 Season: Barring any unforeseen changes, all other events on the 2020 Knoxville Raceway schedule are on as scheduled. All events, as of now, have a maximum capacity of 7,000 spectators.

 

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.