LONG POND, Pa. – With COVID-19 restrictions rolling back in a number of states, NASCAR is getting ready to welcome back fans with no capacity limits.
Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway will be one of the first racetracks this year to fill its stands back up completely for its NASCAR doubleheader in June.
“It gives you hope, that’s the key thing. It gives you hope that we are going to get back to some type of normality again,” said Chris Barrett, the president of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.
After a season of no fans, local businesses can’t wait for tourists to come back.
The Pocono Raceway will be one of the first racetracks this year to fill it’s stands back up completely for its NASCAR doubleheader in June.
“It’s a huge deal, you know, this community is driven by tourism,” said Ben May, the president of the Pocono Raceway.
The race brings hundreds of thousands of people to the area annually.
“It’s a significant economic driver for our region. I mean, you have hundreds of thousands of people coming to a race, and they are spending money on fuel, they’re buying food, they’re staying overnight,” Barrett said.
Workers at Harmony Beverage, a beer shop near the racetrack, said the store is a pitstop for many NASCAR fans.
“It’s nuts up here, there’s so many people and customers people from out of town, even states, you know all the way… They follow the race everywhere,” said Kaila Cherber, a cashier at Harmony Beverage.
Denny Hamlin crosses the finish line to win a NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, July 28, 2019, in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Alek Mager is a brewer at Barley Creek Brewing Company. He said it gets packed there, too.
“The whole hospitality industry, I think, sees a really nice upswing,” Mager said.
After a year of limited capacity at restaurants, workers are ready for the race to bring back big crowds.
“Anytime that you do, unfortunately, have the loss of people coming in, you know, it’s a little bit disappointing. But we got through it, and we’re here and you know things are on the upswing,” Mager said.