County plans action against Can-Am for allowing spectators

Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 7:41 AM EDT
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LAFARGEVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Spectators were in the stands when cars took to the track at LaFargeville's Can-Am Speedway Wednesday for the Pabst Shootout.

Racetrack owner Tyler Bartlett told 7 News Wednesday the capacity was capped at 25 to 30 percent, with various health and safety measures in place.

But Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chair Scott Gray says, according to the state, spectators shouldn't have been allowed in at all.

“That guidance right now is racetracks can be open, they can have pit crews, they can have people in the pit,” Gray said, “but, they cannot have spectators in the stand.”

Bartlett argued they should be able to have fans at the race because of a federal order intended to soften the state's capacity restrictions for indoor religious gatherings and outdoor gatherings.

“They made the leap that applies to all outdoor gatherings, Gray said, “and the state is under the belief that that’s not the case.”

Gray says the county wants to take action against the speedway.

Before they do, they want the state to agree to defend the county in case the racetrack should "file a motion that holds us in contempt of that lawsuit. Then we have the backing of the state for a defense and indemnification. They indemnify us from being liable under that lawsuit."

A post on Can-Am Speedway's Facebook page says their attorney and the county's attorney worked out the details and determined the racetrack was in compliance and they were given "the green flag to open prior to the first spectator entering into the facility."

County attorney David Paulsen says he did speak with Can-Am attorney Wednesday afternoon, but never gave them the go-ahead to have spectators.

“He was in particular interested in knowing whether we were going to try and break up the crowd,” Paulsen said. “I did indicate to him that, no we weren’t going to send the sheriff out, or anything dramatic of that nature. But in no way did I condone this gathering.”

Multiple attempts by 7 News to reach Bartlett have been unanswered.

In an email sent to 7 News Thursday night, Can-Am Speedway attorney Jim Burrows said “I think many north country sports enthusiasts are glad that Can-Am Speedway is able to conduct business in accordance with governing law.”

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