COVID-19, meet the COVID-8, the latest brainchild from promoter Donald Long.
This time, he’s helping heal the public speed crisis thanks to an eight-car shootout for both Radial vs. the World and Pro 275.
The COVID-8 will take place May 22-23 at Orlando Speed World Dragway and is only available to watch at SpeedVideo.com. The race won’t have fans in attendance, but what Long does promise is plenty of must-see viewing — and a guaranteed date.
“It is locked in, set, and it’s a go,” Long said. “We’re only going to take 12 cars for the eight-car shootout. We obviously want to set the (quickest) eight-car field in history.”
The special shootout race follows on the heels of Woostock, which takes place a week earlier at Darlington Dragway.
Long wanted to follow that event with something intriguing of his own, and this idea was hatched in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
He had to postpone Sweet 16 3.0 to October, placing it back-to-back with No Mercy 11, but Long could feel the fervor among racers, fans, sponsors and everyone in the industry to get back to racing.
Woostock will mark the first major race in two months in 2020, and Long hopes to continue that momentum with his own unique take on a fan-free, social-distanced race.
Qualifying will start at 6 p.m. on both Friday, May 22 and Saturday, May 23, with eliminations to follow on Saturday at 9 p.m.
Long estimates seven rounds of qualifying for what will be a star-studded field in both RvW and Pro 275, with all 12 spots nearly accounted for in RvW. He joked he’s going heavy on the glue, hoping to crush records in Orlando.
As for the RvW field, spots filled within hours, and includes a group of heavy hitters like Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who won Lights Out 11 in February and also made the quickest run in RvW history in testing last week, as well as the likes of Marcus Birt, Melanie Salemi, Shawn Ayers, Jamie Hancock, Norman Bryson, Kevin Rivenbark, Mark Woodruff, Luis de Leon, Bryan Markiewicz, Jeff Miller, BC Cantor and David Reese.
As for Pro 275, Long doesn’t expect those slots to last long either, with a group that already includes Mark Micke, Tommy Youmans, Ziff Hudson, Ron Greene and Jason Hoard.
“We have pretty much everyone we want locked in for Radial vs. the World. We are looking for 3-4 more Pro 275 cars,” Long said.
The 12 spots will be reduced to the top eight for eliminations, and Long expects to be done by midnight at Orlando Speed World Dragway on Saturday, March 23.
By then, he believes a huge viewing audience will have witnessed history — in more ways than one.
“I want to break all of the eight-car door car records again,” Long said. “We’ve got the cars to do it, 100 percent. It’s going to be full all-out, and I’m thinking we’re going to see a hell of a shootout.”