'This is stupid': Driver frustrated by Sonoma Raceway mask regulations

Wayne Freedman Image
ByWayne Freedman KGO logo
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Controversy over Sonoma Raceway mask regulation
Sonoma Raceway has a "zero-tolerance policy" for wearing face masks, but some drivers contest this is unsafe due to the carbon dioxide they breathe while racing.

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- We found a hint of normalcy at Sonoma Raceway, this weekend.

Normal, anyway, based on that locale and our uniquely American form of sport known as drag racing.

"It's an addiction. Once you done it it's kind of like drugs," explained Kevin Cantrell, a driver from the Las Vegas area.

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A National Hot Rod Association divisional race is not the kind of event that draws a large crowd. These competitors are amateurs.

Typically, it might draw 600 spectators. This week, the track allowed only racers and crews, and they needed to follow the rules.

"How do you social distance at a drag race?" we asked Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page.

"You stay six feet apart and everyone wears a mask. It is a zero-tolerance policy."

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The track takes this so seriously that it put Yermani Franco inside a pick-up truck with a microphone and speaker.

"Just a reminder everyone should be wearing a mask at this time," Yermani says, making one circuit every thirty minutes.

"Have you had to kick anyone out?" we asked.

"Not yet."'

But the racers and their crews were not exactly happy about it, nor afraid to express those sentiments.

"I take charge of my own health," said Chris Ling from Washington's tri-city area. "I exercise. I eat good. I don't think I should have to take care of everyone else."

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Her friend, driver Larry McLanhan, wore a mask with the words, "This is stupid."

"That is exactly how I feel," Larry said. "I'm sucking in all the carbon dioxide I am supposed to be breathing out."

"I don't think it makes a difference. I think it's blown out of proportion," offered Kevin Cantrell.

"But, you are in California, now," we reminded him.

"I know," he deadpanned.

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And, unlike many other places, Sonoma offers racing this weekend, so sometimes, you just "do what you gotta do."

Jack Sadler from Henderson, Nevada may have put it best.

"We sit at home not racing so I would have worn a space helmet if it meant I could race," he said.

Now, if we can come up with a vaccine as fast as some of these cars get down the track, everyone will be a lot happier.

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