Knoxville Nationals canceled due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions

Not wanting to disenfranchise many of its ticket holders, Iowa's Knoxville Raceway and the Marion County Fair Board announced Tuesday that the Knoxville Nationals, the biggest event in sprint car racing, has been canceled. The 60th running of the event is now scheduled for Aug. 11-14, 2021.

The Nationals annually draw more than 20,000 fans per night, but due to restrictions mandated because of the coronavirus pandemic, the track's capacity is currently just 7,000.

"This is devastating for all of us on the fair board and at the track, as we know it is for all our fans, competitors, sponsors, employees and everyone in the racing community," Brian Bailey, president of the Marion County Fair Board said in a statement. "A year without the Knoxville Nationals just feels surreal. This is not the outcome any of us wanted."

A letter to fans from the track and fair board said they proposed cutting capacity from 20,322 to one that would allow the nearly 12,000 fans who had already purchased tickets to attend, but it wasn't approved by state officials.

"Knowing this, to move forward with the race would mean telling nearly 5,000 fans who had purchased tickets 'Thank you, but you cannot attend now.' It would mean telling the 7,000 who could still attend, 'Due to social distancing, we have to move your seats and re-ticket you,'" the letter said. "It would mean telling the more than 8,000 fans who are accustomed to purchasing their tickets at the ticket office, 'We apologize, but you cannot attend this year.' In essence, we would be, in some way, disappointing every one. Our fans are important to us. The show does not go on without you. So without you, the show will not go on."

With the Nationals and its surrounding events canceled, the track will host the World of Outlaws on Aug. 13-15, with the main event being the Brownells Capitani Classic, which had been scheduled for Aug. 9. Only 7,000 fans will be allowed per night.