Just a couple of observations.

Six months ago if we had walked into a store and noticed someone with a mask on, we would have looked at the person as weird, different… well, call it what you want.

Today when we walk into a store and notice someone “without” a mask, we look at them as weird, different, whatever.

The NHRA has now run three “pseudo” national events at Indy – and I only say that because neither one of those events as you know were on the schedule at the beginning of the year, placed now to… appease maybe… the series sponsor and to add some credibility to the points championship. However you want to look at it, this year has got to be the year of the asterisk. Races have been getting cancelled or postponed, however you chose to look at it and in a couple of weeks we’re going back to Indy for what used to be the biggest event of the year, the U.S. Nationals. Now of course, that one’s going to look different also and not just from a mask-wearing aspect.

Apparently the event has been shortened to complete it on Sunday rather than its usual Monday finish. And long waited Stock and Super Stock class eliminations will not take place which may have an apparent effect on entries in that class. The allotted quota for either of these classes is 160, with Indy being one of only a couple events where a 128-car field is qualified. With less than that number, it becomes an all-run affair. Not Indy. That place is usually stocked full of those classes with an Indy class winning trophy a coveted object. With Indy a little more than three weeks away, this week there is barely 40 of each class entered.

The JEGS All Stars will also be contested at the U.S. Nationals, an event usually run at the Chicago national event in early July; this year cancelled.

As of right now, my plan is to attend to get a first-hand look at what I call the madness, mask wearing everywhere and very few fans in the stands. The latter isn’t anything noteworthy except that for years, we have attempted to never publish a photo with empty grandstands in the background. It just doesn’t bode well for the sport. Sometimes we have no choice, such as big time bracket races where there are relatively no fans. Today though, it’s a different story. And yet no, I’m not sure we should go the route of some Major League Baseball parks with cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands. And if we publish a photo of people not wearing a mask, is it really that big a deal? Who's to say the photo is even current?

I also watched this past week’s golf PGA Championship from California, competed with no fans. Some of the players commented they missed the roar of the crowd and feeding off of their energy. I’m sure there are some of the professional racers who may feel the same way. Unfortunately it is what it is today.

Speaking of me attending the U.S. Nationals – we used to obviously refer to it as just Indy, can’t do that today (Which Indy?) – the one thing I’m not sure I’ll like is the mask police. I guess I should say in all honesty that I don’t like what I see on the Fox broadcasts with regards to everyone wearing a mask, and maybe just done for optics. There were some people at the PGA Championship wearing masks, but not the players, caddies and even in some interviews. Same at other venues also.

I’ll admit, this virus is real and “maybe” the mask wearing is helping, but we’re still hearing of numbers climbing. I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but with attendance at an all-time high at bracket races held across the country with very little mask wearing, I haven’t heard of any racers who can claim they contracted the virus because of a race attended. Maybe there are some who can say that yet are afraid to come forward, but I don’t know why. If you did, it behooves you to notify the people you have come in contact with. Anyone wishing to challenge me on this, please do so.

I just believe there are too many contradicting reports as to COVID. Do what you feel is right for you. If you want to wear a mask and feel safer, so be it. If you don’t, feel free to do so also but don’t criticize others. It's called freedom.

Maybe you’ll see me at Ind… the U.S. Nationals. If you do, slap me, thank me, agree with me or not, whatever. Give me your thoughts. -JOHN DiBARTOLOMEO