BATAVIA — Jim Johnson has not been in the best of moods lately.
The Genesee Speedway promoter has been jumping through more hoops than a circus performer to try and get some local racing underway but every time he figured he was ready to start a practice session, with proper parameters put in place, something would come up to halt the action.
However, on Saturday, he finally received some good news when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced publicly that horse racing at tracks across the state and auto racing will be allowed to resume June 1, but without spectators.
The governor stated his office was “looking for economic activities that you can start without crowds and without gatherings.”
“When we found out the governor was opening Watkins Glen with the same parameters we had set up, we immediately emailed them,” Johnson said.
“They sent an email right back to Norm Pimm of the fair board saying we were good to go starting June 1.”
The email was sent by Greg Albert, of the Economic Development Program.
This means Johnson and Genesee Speedway will finally be allowed to open the track June 6 for two practice sessions that day.
Each session will host no more than 40 cars.
“June 1 is a Monday, not much racing going on that day,” Johnson said. “But we will be practicing Saturday that week.”
No fans will be allowed to attend at this time.
A recent Daily News video featuring Johnson received huge local support with over 32,000 views as of Monday morning.
The video showed Johnson explaining that he and his staff at Genesee had prepared a few different times to offer a safe, social distancing practice session with the same parameters as what the governor had ordered but unfortunately during last Wednesday’s scheduled practice session, the event would be black flagged prior to the gates opening.
“I’m sure the 30,000-plus views from The Daily News didn’t hurt getting the word out to the public,” Johnson said. “We have great support from the whole racing community. They understand since we took this over five years ago that we follow the rules and don’t shortcut anything. This is a wonderful community that loves their racing.”
And it looks like racing will continue June 6.