Fans are trickling into Bristol Motor Speedway for Wednesday night's All-Star race in NASCAR's largest event with spectators since the coronavirus pandemic shut sports down in March. They were greeted by a plane flying over the Tennessee track that was pulling a banner of the Confederate flag, which NASCAR has banned from its races, the AP reports. IndyCar raced last weekend at Road America in Wisconsin and there was no limit on tickets sold to the event held on a 4-mile road course. Crowd estimates for that event have been around 10,000 spectators, but the NASCAR race would likely be the largest sporting event in the US since March. Bristol, dubbed "The Last Great Colosseum," can hold about 140,000 people.
Speedway Motorsports has those in attendance socially distanced through the grandstands and masks were only required upon entrance. Fans were told they could remove them once in their seats. Concession stands were open, but typical shopping opportunities were limited and independent street-side souvenir stands along Speedway Boulevard hawked driver items and even a few Confederate flags. NASCAR in June banned the flag at its events, but President Trump criticized the decision and protesters at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama paraded past the main entrance waving them from their vehicles. A plane also flew over the speedway that day with a flag that read "Defund NASCAR," a play on the "defund the police" slogan of some protesting racial injustice.
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