Race Weekend Central

Racing Journalist’s COVID-19 Survivor Story — Should NASCAR Actually Return?

As NASCAR seeks to resume its season May 17 after a lengthy pit stop from COVID-19, my befuddlement grows daily. I get the whole economic side and the need to continue the sport so that it does not lose any of the “traction” that it may have developed. The sport seeks a need to become a COVID-19 survivor.

But perhaps we’re moving too quickly.

Maintaining safety is of paramount focus. Oh, or maybe it is not. The Frontstretch Slack channel has featured long discussions about safety and how racetracks could be a Petri dish for reigniting the virus if it genuinely has been corralled. 

It seems that the real focus, to me, is ensuring that the owners get paid. Of course, there’s one side who argues that the staff, builders, mechanics and engineers are the focus, not the owners. The people working in the shop are the ones that provide the litany of support that helps a driver go fast.  

Races need to happen so that the staff and crew can get paid, so that the sponsors can resume sending checks, so TV partners resume sending checks and so the sport doesn’t crumble. As NASCAR has fought for relevance over the past decade, any recession into the further reaches of the mind might leave it a wistful memory. That means the money needs to start hitting bank accounts.  

But there are more prominent players at the table. The France family needs theirs… just like the owners want theirs. The politicians and the evangelists are also out to make sure their message can be heard. The politicos must prove they are right about COVID-19 being a hoax or to be able to keep their voice heard in the election cycle. For evangelists, they need their money coming in for those mega-churches.  

These decisions feel rushed and shortsighted. The desire to bring the sport back, even in its newly fashioned outlines, still does not mitigate much in the way of the issues that may follow. For this virus is a confusing and yet unknown monster for some, and who really knows who the ‘some’ are at this point.  

I say that knowing one of those was me. I got the virus at the beginning of March. By March 10, I’d married my bed and stayed in it for probably four days straight. I rarely left the bed – bathroom trips and short dog walks excluded – and really spent those days sleeping.  

I started to feel better toward the end of that first week, but that feeling was short-lived as I quickly plateaued, getting only slightly better and never really improving to the point of becoming healthy.  

I’m not trying to brag, but I am a healthy human. I get my blood tested at least three times per year because of certain reasons and checked by my physician on a schedule that doubles that. I tend to run rather frequently. All the usual measures, prior to getting the virus, indicated that I had no pre-existing conditions. That’s what makes the whole journey so frustrating.  

During the second week, I struggled. I fought an ever-present cough, didn’t eat, couldn’t concentrate and became a shell of a person. At the end of that week, my significant other twisted my arm and forced me to the hospital.  

Aside from being treated like I was radioactive, the nurses and doctor ran every possible test they could. Flu. Sepsis. Bronchitis. X-Rays. Blood tests. Urine sample. All the fun stuff. Everything came back, indicating that I was healthy.  

But the doctor stood there looking at my monitor and expressed his frustration. I had a temperature over 100 degrees. My breathing pattern was far too rapid, as I took way too many breaths per minute. And, of course, the cough was a concern. After two IV bags, a bit of sedative and time spent freezing in the hospital, the doctor came in and said that he’d filled out paperwork to have me admitted, but he was giving me the option to go home and rest under strict quarantine for the next two weeks.  

I took the second option and began a secluded life at home. Then, I spent another week living in my fog. I started to watch TV, but I couldn’t pay attention for long and sat dazed. I couldn’t read or write. It felt like I could barely form more than a couple of sentences, maintaining life as a lump for over another week.  

I’ll admit to feeling moments of despair. What if I get worse? How come I’m not getting better? I’d read enough to know about healthy people dying from the virus and had to wonder about myself. What made everything more bizarre was when I got a call from the hospital saying that my COVID-19 test came back negative.  

And then, the doctor called and told me to disregard the results. Moments like that signify everything that is wrong with our current situation regarding testing, reopening the country and exactly what we’re facing. The fact that every test has indicated that I’m healthy continues to make me smirk in bemusement.  

Over the fourth week, I finally began to feel a more considerable improvement, one that took me to maybe 70-75% healthy, and again, I hovered for a bit. Then, I made my way to maybe 85% and paused again. 

If I didn’t have the coronavirus (I’ve been assured that I did), then whatever I have or had is something else that no one should contract. And if I did, then I can say firsthand that it can be terrible and debilitating.  

My cough still lingers. I’m still prone to lethargy. I’m back to functioning, but I still have questions that will never be answered. That doesn’t matter as much as being aware of what this thing can do.  

Every fan wants racing to drop the green flag and resume competition. Many people who aren’t fans might even want racing to return to action. As much as the sport is predicated on speed, there should not, however, be a rush to return. Drivers, knowingly, take their lives into their hands every time they flip the ignition switch. But does the sport really need to put any more people than are necessary in harm’s way just to feed a race fan’s desires?

The casual and trivial manner in opening the sport back up, even with its limitations, brings a feeling of resentment. As someone who survived, I’ve been fortunate. But I still went through a month getting my ass kicked by the virus.

It’s true not everyone will get so sick; this insidious disease has its share of asymptomatic carriers. For those who skate by its debilitating effects, good for them. There’s the other side of the situation though, lurking, ready to bring down even the healthy people.  

I’m a fan and a writer, and I love motorsports. I’d like to see racing like anyone else, but maybe keeping the cars parked for another week or two is not such a bad idea. Maybe the adage that patience is a virtue should be circling people’s minds and not the cars circling the track.

For a sport that sometimes loves to throw yellows, maybe it’s best to err on the side of caution. 

About the author

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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Thanks for sharing. Some posters here believe the virus is a hoax while one clueless one will be following me claiming we need to just let it run its course so most become immune to it. This last one gets his wish because today the bigger clown decided not to help fight the virus and instead just let some die for the sake of the greater economic good. Americans are warriors he said now, but not back when his bone spurs got him five deferments. I wonder how both those clowns would do if living your experience. I think we would hear a lot of whining from those two. I sincerely hope you continue to get well and have no long lasting problems.

Bill B

I hear a lot of criticism but you offer no plan yourself.
So if you were in charge what would be your plan?
How long would you keep the country closed?
What’s your plan for those that have no savings or cash flow?
Are you financially secure or are you on the edge like so many others (many of which are protesting to be able to return to their jobs)?. Because if you are financially secure then you are not facing the same hardships as so many others, therefor you really aren’t in a position to throw stones at them.

Just wondering. It’s easy to criticize but if you don’t offer a plan then you are just bitching and whining. So, please, enlighten us idiots.

Bill B

It’s been over an hour and no reply. Not one stinking idea.

I thought not.

Please I urge you to turn off whatever 24 hour news station you are watching and really think about this for yourself. Not just about minimizing the number of dead from Covid 19 but all the other aspects of keeping the things we need to keep billions of people around the world functioning for the long term.

You are only looking at one side of the cube.


Hello billy boy. Sorry but I’ve been out in the Redwoods all day. Reception here is spotty but thought I’d check in and see who was whining and bingo, here you are. I wonder if the author would have gotten the virus if the clown had paid attention to his intelligence agencies and tried to be a leader. Oh wait, he’d already dismantled his pandemic agency back two years ago. Oops, I can’t send the states ventilators or masks because I already emptied the pantry when I sent them all to my friend Xi in China. So I’m just going to pretend it’s all going to go away in a bit. You want my suggestion, fine, let’s call a spade a spade and get rid of the clueless clown and put someone in charge that has a clue. Chew on that awhile huckleberry.

Bill B

Still… not one original idea on how to handle the virus. Just parroting the same stale partisan ideas you hear on CNN. Brilliant.

I am asking YOU what YOU would do with regards to re-opening the country. I’d bet you felt the same way before you’d ever hear of Covid 19 and this is just another convenient way to spout the same old BS.

OK for arguments sake. I agree with you. That ship has sailed and the milk is spilled, now we need to take the next step after the last 6 weeks of duck and cover policy. What would YOU suggest we do next regarding this virus. Come on,,, man, you have to have some opinion. SPeak up.

Bill B

Also I notice you didn’t answer any of the questions I asked just whined about Trump.

Is the continued shut down of the country affecting your finances????
Are you personally suffering in any way?


feel better. ga opened back up this week and from what i saw over the weekend i fear that the next wave is 3-4 weeks away. na$car is a money making business. i feel for the teams that have had to lay off employees. i am just concerned that even with the most skeleton crews at the track, they’re increasing their exposure.

oh well…..feel better

WJW Motorsports

Imagine hypothetically you led a nation of millions and were presented with a choice: Re-open and perhaps hundreds of thousands will die directly of illness, or stay closed and perhaps millions will die indirectly from starvation, other illness, etc. or related indirect consequences of economic failure? What would you do? Make the brave but wise decision for millions, or continue to camp out in your Echo Chamber?


That’s funny because my test came back positive and I never displayed any symptoms. That means they SHOULD race.

See how anecdotal evidence works?


Why did you get tested?

Bill B

I think you missed his point DoninAjax.

Sorry, I don’t have the time or inclination to explain it. Maybe someone else will.


A work requirement.


Why would your work require it if covid-19 is a hoax?

David Edwards

What is the answer? I don’t thiink anyone has an answer. However I don’t think spouting talking points by one side or the other is helpful.
I only hope that whatever decision is made its based on facts rather than the desire to make a loot of rich people even richer, which is what I believe the author was talking about.


Per the Johns Hopkins map, in my neck of Dixie there’s 78 cases in a county of ~130,000 (.06%) and zero fatalities. Alabama has roughly 8500 cases in a population of ~5M (.17%) and 172 deaths (3% mortality rate state wide). The highest number of cases are in urban areas and in/around UA and Auburn. The exception is rural counties where the chicken farms & processors rely on illegal immigrants (who by definition don’t obey the law).

Of course no data is available for active cases vs people who have recovered. Nor is there data for demographics of those who died. So the numbers above may or may not be cumulative. On top of that there is no breakdown of whether those cases are asymptomatic or if they’re truly ill.

I have no first hand experience with the Chinese virus. Very thankful the author survived & lived to let our little community know what it was like. That said, my bride (who has a compromised immune system due to an autonomic disease) and I have chosen not to live our life in fear. We’re not gonna be stupid but not gonna be afraid either.

Life must go on. I give major props to the protestors up nawth, to the hair dresser in Dallas, to the sheriffs who refuse to obey unconstitutional diktats at local / state / federal level.


I have to reply to you this way billy boy, perhaps my reception is really off here. All the experts, scientists and doctors, have stated over and over that more time ducking and covering is needed. I’m not so foolish as to think I’m smarter than the experts, are you ! I’m not quoting any CNN party line to ya, I’m quoting the foolish clown himself who blurts out whatever idiotic dream he’s having that moment. He makes it easy, pay attention. Of course we all are suffering some kind of hardship due to the clueless ones ineptness. I am, you are, my family and friends and your family and friends. His idiocy on the coronavirus has affected us all in some way. Let’s hear your denial on that and your reasoning. I can’t comprehend how anyone with any common sense can honestly defend this dufus unless they are the type that stands out in a downpour and wonders why they are getting wet. One American died every 42 seconds last month. Think of that. We’ve already surpassed the total number of Americans lost in two decades in Vietnam and we’ve done that in sixty days. Please tell me what this clown has done since January 3 to try saving lives in this country. Tell me where and when he has shown compassion for those who have caught the virus or the family affected by it too. If you can do any of that your a magician my friend. Wake up, your in a cult trance.

Bill B

I am not defending Trump at all. You are the one that keeps bringing him up like there was some silver bullet he could have deployed that would have stopped all this. You picked the perfect name to use because all you do is spout the same thing over and over like an echo that never stops.

I have said this all along. This virus is beyond our ability to control. No matter who is in charge it is going to run it’s course. We can’t stop a volcano, we can’t stop an earthquake, we can’t stop an asteroid from slamming into the earth and we can’t stop a virus from going around the globe. Look around and tell me what country’s leader has done any better. No matter what measures they put in place people are dying. It’s a virus. It’s a force of nature.

Please tell me what you would have done since January 3rd if you were in charge. Otherwise, you are just whining and complaining and just using it as another opportunity to bitch about the president. I am also wondering what YOU would have liked him to do to show compassion for those who have caught the disease. Am I missing something,,, a holiday? flowers? a card in the mail? a donation to the Covid awareness fund? What exactly are you getting at there. It just sounds like another thing for you to whine about.

Bill B

Also regarding the doctors saying more ducking and covering is needed. They too only look at one side of the cube because it’s what they are trained to do. Their one goal is to reduce deaths, to hell with everything else. Unfortunately the world is more complex than that. They will say we should duck and cover until there is a cure no matter how long it takes. I would love for everyone to be able to do that,,,, but here in the real world that is a luxury to most. Are you going to be financially ruined when the dust settles? Where is your compassion for those that will be?


All valid points, I agree with you there. Yes I’m an echo in my criticism of the clown, but he brings it on. Back to reality. Ok, the clown coulda shoulda started testing, handing out ventilators, masks, etc that he’d already sent to China but he didn’t, instead he blamed Obama and WHO and aliens for not having a vaccine for a virus that didn’t even exist back then. Look at Spain and Italy, their numbers went sky high and have come back down a long way while our denial about everything or outright lying has continued to extend the time it’s taking for this country to reach it’s peak numbers. Hell it’s almost June, and we still haven’t plateaued. I know it’s a virus as you say, I know it’s like trying to stop a tornado, what I’m echoing about is the extra lives being lost due to complete incompetence by an idiot and his clown court. Look at today’s stock market. Up over 300 points on news that now over 30 million have lost their jobs. Talk about faking it. Bad enough the treasury is propping up this market by buying trillions of dollars of stocks, now we have the federal reserve buying bonds and stocks for the first time ever. You and I are never going to agree that’s obvious. But I’ll have the last laugh come November when this clown is gone along with McConnell. Look what they’ve done to this country.

Bill B

” Look at Spain and Italy, their numbers went sky high and have come back down a long way while our denial about everything or outright lying has continued to extend the time it’s taking for this country to reach it’s peak numbers”

I did a google search on each country’s population and a search for each country’s Covid deaths (amounts are rounded):

Country Popul Deaths Percent
UK 66.5 mil 30500 0.00046
Italy 60 mil 30000 0.00050
Spain 47 mil 26000 0.00055
France 67 mil 26000 0.00039
US 328 mil 76000 0.00023

Kind of doesn’t look as bad as you make it out to be when compared to other countries which you claim have done a better job.

Bill B

See if I can make it more readable….

Country—– Popul ——Deaths ——Percent
UK———— 66.5 mil —30500——- 0.00046
Italy———- 60 mil—— 30000——- 0.00050
Spain——— 47 mil—– 26000——- 0.00055
France——- 67 mil —–26000 ——–0.00039
US ————328 mil—- 76000——– 0.00023

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