TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Heartland Motorsports Park is imposing new rules due to the coronavirus pandemic as drag racers from across the country head to Topeka. Heartland is hosting the NHRA Lucas Oil Event 5-2 and 5-3 Double Header Thursday through Sunday.
Park officials have switched up the registration process to make it more “touch-less”. There are also hand-washing stations and signs reminding people to social distance.
Track Manager Travis Hilton said they have blocked off certain areas of the park and spread drivers out to help with social distancing.
“Every racer here is hand parked,” Hilton said “We have somebody go around and show them where to park. We have purposely spread everyone out as far as we possibly could across our 800 acres to make sure nobody is encroaching on anyone else.”
Both NHRA and Shawnee County have mask rules that Heartland is following. Signs are located across the park, reminding people to wear a mask when they cannot social distance. Hilton said they are also requiring drivers to wear masks at the starting line.
Don O’Neal is one of the hundreds of drivers in town for this event. He is a retired Army veteran who drove more than seven hours from his home in Indiana to race at Heartland.
“It’s like anything else,” O’Neal said. “You do it for the people and the enjoyment. I can’t see myself doing anything else other than drag racing.”
O’Neal said he grew up racing with his family in North Carolina and first competed at Heartland in 2008. This weekend he’s competing for his wife Di who is battling cancer. He is wearing a mask that says #DoItForDi.
Drivers will run trials and qualifying rounds on Thursday and Saturday. The elimination rounds are Friday and Sunday.
Tickets are $20 per person, but kids 12 and under are free. Click here to purchase tickets.