Challenge Daytona: To Be or Not To Be

It’s been a hell of a ride through 2020 so far. There are only two races left on my schedule of 17 races, Challenge Daytona is by far the larger of the two events, so I thought I’d dive deep into this year’s event by submitting a media request.

The organizers of Challenge Daytona seem very sure of themselves that this event will go on as planned. “As a brand of athletes producing races for athletes we recognize this has been a challenging year for athletes and are making all necessary race preparations with the circumstances in mind.” said Shannon Schmidt (who is an outside consultant doing press relations for Challenge Daytona). “We will have a festival weekend that athletes, spectators and vendors will feel good about participating in because of the plans we are making and will implement.” 

“We are working with health care leaders alongside the recommendations from state officials. Recently, NASCAR returned to racing with fans so we are also working alongside NASCAR as we make race weekend preparations. Each worker, athlete, spectator is going to be screened before entering the facility.” said Schmidt.

Recently Rebekah Jones, a data manager working for the Florida Department of Health, filed a whistleblower complaint after she was asked by supervisors to falsify CoVID-19 data on the public website. I asked Schmidt if she thought with high ranking state officials trying to cook the books on CoVID-19 statistics if she thought the State was a reliable source to base their race decisions on, but she did not provide a comment.

When asked about how social distancing would be implemented, Schmidt said, “We are looking to duplicate the IMSA model where each person has to fill out a questionnaire each day, after they fill out the questionnaire they will receive a QR code that they show at the gate each morning.  At the gate they will have their temp taken, QR code scanned and if they pass given a wrist band for that day’s approval to be on property.” 

I asked if deferrals would be an option. Schmidt said, “We do not anticipate this happening, but if we do, we would make sure that all registered athletes are given ample choices of what to do with their registration. What choice would that be? It’s either a refund or a deferral because this is the only Challenge Family race in the United States…and there’s a travel ban on Americans by many countries now.

Lastly, I asked “Would the million dollar prize purse be carried over to 2021 if you cancel this year?” Schmidt responded, “The event will not be cancelled.” Reading the tea leaves I’d have to disagree with her outlook, in fact if I were a betting man I’d bet the farm on the race not taking place. The state government can’t be relied upon because of their shitacular pandemic response. See y’all at Challenge Daytona in 2021.

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