In what has quickly become one of the more high-profile battles between a drag racing facility and county health officials and lawmakers in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, John Bandimere and members of the Bandimere Speedway family are sitting before a Jefferson County judge today defending its actions in contesting a heavily-attended annual event over the Fourth of July holiday.
Jefferson County health officials have said the Morrison, Colorado dragway failed to follow social distancing, spectator capacity, and sanitary measures when it moved forward with its Brakes Plus Jet Car Nationals and Independence Day celebration. The hearing, being held to determine if an injunction will be granted, comes after Jefferson County Public Health announced it would pursue legal action against the dragway. If an injunction is granted, it would limit the Bandimere Speedway’s operations and require it to submit a pre-approved safety plan before every event.
In a statement made by Jefferson County Public Health, Bandimere agreed to “clear, court-ordered requirements” in a temporary restraining order that was issued before the event, but violated those policies. Attorneys for the Bandimere’s contend that despite the large crowd, the event was safe, calling the legal action “tremendous overreach.”
JCHP officials stated Sunday it “has been closely monitoring the situation at Bandimere Speedway, and we are disappointed in the organization’s ability to limit and manage the crowd size, implement social distancing requirements and adhere to Colorado’s Public Health Order 20-28 at the Jet Car Nationals event yesterday.”
During the hearing, Bandimere’s attorney’s have defended the track’s practices, while questioning county officials how the family is to stay in business if it cannot permit spectators into its events.
Court-ordered policies currently ban gatherings in outdoor venues exceeding 175 people in any designated area.
Fans of the speedway have taken to social media in support of the Bandimere’s, saying they attended Saturday’s race in support of freedom and constitution. Many turned up today outside the Jefferson County courthouse to voice their support of Bandimere.
Last week, Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director Mark B. Johnson stated to area news outlets that he was concerned the Bandimere’s were and would continue to violate county health orders banning large gatherings. Johnson issued a letter to John Bandimere on July 29, outlining the orders, requesting a response by July 1 — Bandimere did not respond.
Bandimere is still scheduled to host the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil August 7-9.
We will have more on this developing story as information becomes available.