2020 was a year that none of us will ever forget for a variety of reasons, most of which revolve around the ongoing pandemic for Covid-19. Short track racing wasn’t able to escape the effects of the virus and the shutdowns and restrictions that followed.
For five months Anderson Motor Speedway would see only the occasional event, some without fans in attendance just to get a race in the books for the Southeast Super Truck Series. It was frustrating for the local base of racers and fans and Friday nights just weren’t the same without engines roaring in Williamston, SC.
Anderson finally returned to racing regularly on Saturday, August 1st. Even with the race on a different day of the week, the return of racing brought some normalcy to a year that was anything but normal.
Despite the disruption that the pandemic brought about, Anderson Motor Speedway owner and operator Sylvia Porter says that once they got back to racing it was business as usual.
“I can’t complain,” Porter said. “On August 1st, when we were finally able to get back to racing regularly again, the competitors showed up and after some hesitation, the fans came out too. People were just eager to be out of the house and they were very supportive of us.”
Porter says they raced later into the season and “made it through” 2020 giving her an optimistic outlook for 2021.
“We had a bad set of circumstances, but we made it through it,” Porter explained. “Our governor was better than other states about letting us get back to racing. Virginia and North Carolina were very strict while South Carolina wasn’t. I’m trying to be positive about 2021. Lots of people are starting to test and every conversation I have with racers is positive about the upcoming season and everyone is looking forward to getting back going.”
Anderson’s first race is set for March 12th, though like everyone in every business Porter is unsure of what things will look like by then. She says she hasn’t talked to her local officials because everything seems to change every day during this pandemic. She says when the time gets closer to go racing, she’ll reach out and see where they’re at but doesn’t expect a lot of changes from the way the season ended.
One thing the pandemic did change in 2020 for Anderson was its status as a NASCAR sanctioned track. Porter said that she didn’t sanction her races in 2020 due to covid and not knowing when they would get to race and how much. In 2021, Porter says she’ll continue to operate without sanctioning due to financial reasons.
NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series sanctioning is a $20,000 plus investment for short tracks and according to most track operators, the pros to being sanctioned no longer outweigh the cons. For Porter, she says that while being NASCAR was a great experience, it just doesn’t make sense for Anderson Motor Speedway.
“Last year we weren’t sanctioned due to covid,” Porter stated. “It was a great experience for us with NASCAR and the people over there have always been good to us but we’re just not going to do it this year due to finances. We’re going to miss some of the perks that come with it and I’m sure the racers will miss some of the perks that came with it but we’re not going to do it this year.”
Porter says that nothing really changes for their program with the change to being a non-sanctioned track.
Another change that 2020 brought about was moving to an all Limited Late Model program instead of running full-blown NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars. Porter says it was a little more comfortable for her and thinks it’ll continue to grow in 2021.
“We went to a Limited Late Model program last year and that was more comfortable for us. We had a good program with them and we averaged 14-15 cars in the Mini Stocks, so we had a good base. I think we’ll continue that and maybe grow it some this year.”
Anderson has a packed 2021 schedule loaded with 15 weekly race events and is dotted with multiple visits by the Southeast Super Truck Series, a two-day weekend visit by the Must See Sprint Car Series and the always popular Tour of Destructions making an appearance in May.
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.