QUINCY — Chalk up another cancellation due the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Grand Prix of Karting was officially postponed Thursday until June 2021.
"The Grand Prix race committee felt in the best interest of safety, for both the spectators and competitors, that this year's scheduled race should not be held," director Terry Traeder said. "The logistics of trying to control everything to meet the state (health) guidelines would be very difficult."
Actually, Traeder admitted, it would be next to impossible.
"We're just doing what we feel is the right thing to do," Traeder said.
Earlier this year, Traeder and the event's executive committee had moved the Grand Prix from its traditional early June dates to Oct. 10 and 11. At the time, the pandemic was in its early stages and Traeder hoped that pushing the event to later on the calendar would allow it to be held at its familiar South Park site.
"But the recent spikes in number of cases — not only around the world and nationally, but also in Quincy — made this decision an unwanted but easy call," Traeder said.
Traeder said Grand Prix executive committee members met with a variety of local officials before making their decision. That meeting was originally scheduled for Aug. 15, but was moved up when Traeder thought the ultimate decision was inevitable.
"Everyone felt it was the best decision, for both competitors and fans alike," Traeder said. "There would have simply been too many worries with the crowd that would have likely attended."
This would have been the third Grand Prix since the event's return in 2018, and would have marked the 50th anniversary of its first running.
An estimated 20,000 fans, spread across the rolling, 1.2-mile South Park venue, attended the Grand Prix races during 2018 and 2019.
In just the two years since its return, the Grand Prix had already captured a national audience and much acclaim. Ekartingnews.com listed the Grand Prix as one of the top 10 races in the United States
The Grand Prix had been discontinued after its 2001 run, due largely to dwindling interest in karting (at the time) on a national level. The sport has made a comeback, especially during the last five years, due in part to more economically feasible classes that have attracted more participants and fans.
The 2019 Grand Prix drew 319 racers from 17 states, and Traeder was originally expecting that 2020 number to approach or surpass 400. The all-time Grand Prix record is 625.
The event was founded by the late Gus Traeder — Terry Traeder's father — who directed the event for its first 47 years.
In recent years, the sport has regained popularity, due to updated equipment, technology and a lower start-up cost.
"We'll be back," Traeder said. "The Grand Prix is a special event. More than any other major karting race, Quincy is all about the fans — which is shown in how they support the races — and that's what makes the South Park event special.
"And we're already planning to make it special again in 2021."