Please people, use your head and practice social distancing. The longer that you continue to not listen to the advice of health officials, the longer this will continue. The coronavirus pandemic has caused much in the racing community to shut down. On top of that, it has hit close to home.
Many events have been postponed at least through this month. Dodge City Speedway in Howes Cave announced that it will wait until at least May 15 to begin its season, and that will be a non-points event.
I reached out to open-wheel racer Kathy Bellen this week, in hopes of providing some reading material. Bellen is a second-generation driver and is 32 years old. A single mom, she began her racing career in 1998. Her first division was go-karts, and in 2002 she moved up to the street stock division.
In 2004, she climbed into a 600cc micro sprint. After that, Bellen decided to take a 10-year hiatus from racing to, as she put it, “experience life, without racing.”
Bellen returned in 2015 and went behind the wheel of an Empire Lightning Sprint. The next move would come in 2017, as she would make the jump up to the full-sized open-wheel division. A 602 crate sportsman was the choice for the Mayfield resident, competing in the limited sportsman at both Glen Ridge Motorsports Park and Fonda Speedway. She would achieve two wins at Fonda, but finished third in the point championship.
Up on the hill at The Ridge, Bellen was leading the point race for most of the season, but ended up fourth after mid-season engine issues started plaguing her. In 2018, it was time to move into the regular 602 sportsman division, where she has raced for the past two years. Towards the end of the 2019 season, she made the decision to try out a 358 small-block modified. Her plans for 2020 are to run in the modified division at the “Track of Champions” with the small block.
I try to stay positive about motorsports and tend to shy away the negative. Unfortunately, there are those few times when an issue crosses the line. Then it becomes my responsibility to say something.
Recently, a certain local vintage racing series promoter and her tech inspector paid a visit to a certain driver’s garage. Now the driver agreed to this, if he was allowed time to disinfect his garage and that the two visitors were both in good health and had no symptoms of the coronavirus. Do I know the day this took place? No, but the pictures posted show no social distancing. Anyone can be a carrier of this illness. If there was concern about disinfecting the garage area, it was recent.
In today’s society, where we are dealing with a worldwide pandemic, there are some things that can wait until a later date. When most of the members of a group are within a high-risk category, you need to use your head. Even to imply or insinuate that something like this took place is selfish and careless. It cannot be emphasized enough that staying home saves lives. It is sad that some people have not yet learned the meaning of non-essential activities.
Stay healthy, stay safe, stay home.
Thomas Coughlin Jr. covers area stock car racing for The Recorder.