MORRISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Jefferson County Public Health announced Sunday its intent to pursue legal action against the management of Bandimere Speedway following Saturday’s Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals and Fourth of July fireworks event. The health department claims the speedway violated an agreement between the parties to limit attendance and promote the attendees’ adherence to county and state health guidelines established for public gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those requirements were violated, the health department stated in a press release.
“We want our businesses, who are pillars in our community, to be able to safely operate,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of JCPH. “At the same time, we are dealing with the most significant public health crisis of our lifetime, and cases of the virus are already starting to increase again in Jeffco. We are proud that the large majority of our local businesses are working diligently to keep themselves and others safe. However, when one business does not, it compromises the health and economy of our entire community.”
Attorneys for the JeffCo health department and the drag strip had agreed to the stipulations the day before the event after a judge granted a temporary restraining order on Thursday. That temporary restraining order, requested by the health department’s attorneys, threatened to shut down the race, even as race teams began pulling into the pits.
At issue, the JeffCo health department concerns about track’s ability to cap attendance at 175 people — the current state-wide maximum for outdoor gatherings — and to implement social distancing requirements for those who did attend. Track management did not respond to the concerns until the temporary restraining order was granted.
Less than 12 hours to the scheduled gates opening, Bandimere posted on its Facebook page that the event was given a green light.
Copter4 flew over the event Saturday morning and found a limited number of spectators.
“It’s good to see people out again,” said Frank Peterson, who lives by the speedway. “I hope the whole thing gets to be where people can be out again like we used to be able to.”
But as racing commenced in the afternoon and the promise of evening fireworks hung in the air with spent nitro fumes, the crowd grew measurably.
John Bandimere Jr., track president, said of his event on Saturday “This is not a drag race, it’s a rally for freedom.” He then took issue with state health measures, saying “I pray for Gov. (Jared) Polis that he would get some wisdom.”
“Gatherings in outdoor venues in excess of 175 people per designated activity are banned,” stated the health department’s press release. “This does not mean the entire event itself was limited to 175 guests. However, representatives from JCPH who attended the event collected evidence that this requirement was still violated.”
“It’s pretty huge, not somewhere I’d like to be just because of all the whole coronavirus thing,” said Mark Senolos, who parked near the speedway to watch the firework show from a distance Saturday night.