Americans everywhere are tired of the lockdown, and North Carolina racing fans made that abundantly clear yesterday.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Ace Speedway opened up in defiance of Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s orders to stay locked down, prompting hundreds of racing fans to show up and wait nearly two hours to get in. As the Observer reported, the scene looked as if there never was a pandemic with people standing close together and hanging out as people normally would:
They lined up more than two hours before the first race Saturday at Ace Speedway, and soon that line stretched 700 feet from the little ticket hut near the front gate all the way to the road. Some of them drank beer while they waited, or smoked cigarettes. They stood close together, without fear of the virus or concern for social distancing.
At the country speedway in the northwest corner of Alamance County, it was as if the coronavirus pandemic was a thing of the past. It was as if the United States wasn’t approaching 100,000 deaths from the virus, and as though much of North Carolina hadn’t been on lockdown just a week or so earlier. It was, amid a global crisis, a scene from life before.
Cars kept pulling into the grassy lot surrounding the racetrack, their arrival creating a mist of dirt and dust in the haze. The sun shined down upon the line. It continued growing longer and hotter, people inching closer to the front where they’d pay $12 to come inside and sit in the grandstand or in a lawn chair somewhere along the fence and watch the cars go by.
One worker at the race track said that people were coming in from all over the state to be a part of the fun and defiance. According to one race fan, Gene Yarboro, he couldn’t recall a time when the line to get in had ever looked so long. By the time the races began, over 4,000 were in attendance.
“They’ve been locked up,” Yarboro said according to the Observer. “They want to go somewhere, and this is the only place, really, legal to come around.”
The legality of the gathering is in question. Cooper ordered that no large public gatherings were allowed during their phase 2 of the lockdown’s end. At this time, no more than 25 people may gather in a single place.
Four thousand-plus is definitely more than 25.
For many, seeing the lockdown orders being ignored was a real pleasure according to the Observer. For one, it’s changed his views about which political party he supports:
“I love to see this,” said Coates, 63. “It’s time to open the country back up, man.”
Chandler, 61, stood next to him and nodded.
“I mean, it’s a little scary,” he said. “But we can’t live under a rock forever.”
They’d arrived here because they like racing. And yet that was only part of it.
“People been cooped up and they’re ready to get out,” Coates said. “I think they need to open this economy back up, too. And let people be smart about what they’re doing. I mean, we’re not dummies.
“And I’m not trying to get all political, and all that,” but then he did, offering his criticism of “these liberals,” as he put it.
“I used to be a Democrat,” Coates said, “but Trump — everything the poor man does, it ain’t enough. You know? And God bless Trump, and God bless America, man. That’s all I can say.”
If Cooper was hoping the local authorities would help to round up the race fans revolting against the orders, he can count them out. According to the Observer, Alamance County officials aren’t going to lift a finger. As Clyde Albright, the Alamance County Attorney said, officials “cannot constitutionally limit the number of people who can peaceably assemble.”