Coronavirus blues are driven away as people take to the racing tracks

Country clubs, drag strips, autocrosses help people stay socially distant while satisfying need for speed

Cars have been coming to the rescue for many people during the coronavirus pandemic. From drive-through testing facilities and restaurants to drive-in movie theaters, they provide a mobile form of social distancing.

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For the same reason, auto racing was one of the first sports to return to action, with NASCAR leading the way, and you don’t need to be a pro to fulfill your need for speed when you’re not using your car as a way to avoid mass transit, as the CDC has suggested.

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Racetracks across the country have been reopening earlier than some other facilities, even in more restrictive states like California and New York, although neighboring New Jersey still hasn’t given them the green light.

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At the private Monticello Motor Club in New York, where initiation fees range from $65,000 to $100,000, members can drive in, take a temperature check, and do some laps while keeping to themselves. For those who do get out of the car, there’s plenty of room surrounding the 4-mile-long track to spread out and face-covering rules are in effect, with the helmets and balaclavas typically worn likely more effective than a paper mask.

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The club has even continued to provide instruction in sanitized track cars by using radios to communicate with students from other cars instead of the instructors having to sit next to them in the passenger seat.

But it’s not just the fancy country clubs that are up and running again. Local drag strips and autocrosses where you can get your fix for a fraction of the cost are operating with their own protocols in place, and organizations like Hooked on Driving and the National Auto Sport Association have resumed hosting noncompetitive track days at various locations where you can open it up legally for a couple of hundred bucks.

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