More than 30,000 racing fans are set to attend the Daytona 500 on Sunday in what will be the largest sporting event of the COVID pandemic.
Thousands of spectators packed the stands and emerged from RVs in the center of the Florida track to watch practice and pre-races ahead of the main event.
The track made all the usual window-dressing moves to prove safety is a priority, with temperature checks, distanced seating, cashless concessions and adherence to CDC guidelines.
NASCAR went down this road last season when Bristol had about 22,000 fans for its All-Star race last July. Daytona is bigger, even with social distancing in place for the grandstands, a mandatory mask order and no access to garages or pit row.
Speedweeks, the runup to the big race, is actually sponsored by a health care system headquartered in Florida and COVID-19 testing information sits above a link to official travel packages on the track´s website.
Sam Maxwell and his band of Cleveland bros packed up their 1997 Four Winds motorhome with 105,000 miles on it, headed south in the thick of the pandemic and pinned their hopes on a party.
Traveling on a budget, the friends like to hit a premier sporting event each year, and this week - thanks only to interest spiked by playing FanDuel - parked in the infield grass at Daytona International Speedway. They came to soak in the Daytona 500 atmosphere, or whatever they found among the campers killing time with games of cornhole and flip cup.
'We´re still going to have a party one way or the other,' Maxwell said. 'Whether there´s 100 people or just the four of us, we´re still going to have fun.'
The diehard Browns fans brought the party to them. They hit a thrift store, plunking down $25 for a ratty sofa - perfect to absorb spilled PBR - and even plucked a keyboard out of a dumpster.