More River Cities Speedway fans to be allowed at Friday's racing program

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WISSOTA street stocks cars cruise past the main grandstand at River Cities Speedway during Friday's season-opener feature race. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The Grand Forks County on Tuesday agreed to loosen attendance restrictions at River Cities Speedway.

The commission unanimously agreed that up to 1,000 fans can watch this Friday’s race program at the track, which is located on Grand Forks County property.

RCS officials asked for an attendance limit of 2,000 fans, which is roughly one-third of the seating capacity at the track.

Two separate proposals were considered by the commission.

The first would have allowed 1,200 people onsite. That failed on a 3-2 vote. Diane Knauf, Tom Falck and David Engen voted against that limit while Bob Rost and Cynthia Pic supported it.


The second, allowing 1,000 fans, was then approved unanimously.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for the track to operate normally. Because of the pandemic, the commission has the final say on how many fans will be allowed since it owns the property..

The race season usually begins in late April or early May but the first race program of 2020 wasn’t held until last Friday, May 29.

At that event, only 250 people were allowed at the track, which included drivers, crew members, officials and fans.

Social distancing guidelines were followed and most of the fans did wear face masks.

Because of the attendance limits, RCS officials weren't able to run all four classes that race regularly at the quarter-mile track.

Last week, streets and Midwest modifieds -- two regular RCS classes -- did compete, along with area lightning sprints.

But late models and sprints cars -- the two top classes at RCS -- did not compete. The weekly purse for those two classes is considerably higher, and requires significantly more fans.


After the meeting, however, RCS officials said they will race all four classes this Friday.

The commission, however, said it would revisit the attendance restrictions in two weeks.

RCS already has lost one of its top races of the season -- the early June World of Outlaws show the track has hosted since 2007. That show was canceled but the second WoO show scheduled for August remains on the schedule.

Usually, the two WoO events attract between 5,000 and 6,000 fans for each show.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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