The months-long dispute between the Bandimere Speedway and Jefferson County Public Health continued during the weekend, with the Morrison racetrack canceling more events and the county defending its public health plan as it seeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“After three days of numerous attempts to comply with the restrictions being placed on the drag strip due to the current COVID-19, they were ultimately unable to get the approval from the Jefferson County Health Department,” Bandimere Speedway said in a statement posted to its website.
The racetrack had planned a weekend of outdoor entertainment for local racers and their families, but as they lined up at the racer entrance gate, they were “visibly stunned” when the Bandimere family told them the weekend’s racing events were canceled, the speedway said. The family-owned track also alleged that Jefferson County Public Health officials canceled a meeting with the Bandimeres to work on a plan for the events.
On Friday night, Jefferson County responded in a news release, saying it had heard through social media, emails and in the media “inaccurate claims that events have been ‘cancelled by JCPH.’ ”
The state’s guidelines for outdoor events had been in place for over a month, public health officials said, and they had been working with other venues on ways to operate while adhering to the state’s requirements. On Monday, the department issued a public health order requiring venues hosting outdoor events to submit a plan that demonstrates compliance with the state’s order.
“The goal of each action taken by JCPH is not to punish any of our area businesses or organizations, but to keep the people within our community safe and healthy,” the department said.
Jefferson County and the Bandimeres have been engaged in public and legal feuds since the county alleged the venue violated social distancing requirements during the July 4 weekend.
As a result, a judge issued a temporary restraining order that required the speedway to limit its crowd sizes to 175 people per activity and to follow physical distancing guidelines, such as ensuring fans from different families stayed 6 feet apart.
On Tuesday a Jefferson County judge said the Speedway must comply with local and state public health laws while operating during the pandemic, citing a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case regarding mandatory smallpox vaccinations.
The Bandimere family has said that limiting events to 175 people would put them out of business. The speedway recently postponed the Mile High Nationals — its biggest races of the year — for a second time.
“We are beaten down, but we are not broken,” the family said in Friday’s news release. “The support we have received from those who understand civil rights has been remarkable and we will continue to fight on their behalf.”
The events for this evening and tomorrow, July 24 & 25, will NOT be happening. Jefferson County Health Department will not approve any of the plans we have sent and the list of rules and guidelines they want us to follow makes it impossible for us to be open. pic.twitter.com/OPAQJITHAt
— Bandimere Speedway (@Bandimere) July 24, 2020