NASCAR will trial COVID-sniffing dogs at the upcoming race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in an effort to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
Dogs like this Belgian shepherd being trained in Germany can detect the virus through smell.
(Ole Spata/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Two teams of dogs trained by 360 K9 Group will be used in the track’s infield to screen drivers, crews and staff working onsite, and need just 30 seconds to detect the virus. Anyone who causes a positive response will then be taken to a medical facility for further screening.
A limited number of fans will be in attendance under social distancing guidelines, but not subject to the screening.
“We think that these dogs and this capability is going to allow us to rapidly confirm that all of those people entering the essential footprint on Sunday — that’s race teams, that’s NASCAR officials, that’s the vendors that work inside the garage — all those folks are COVID-free or not,” NASCAR managing director of racing operations Tom Bryant told NASCAR.com.
“The ability to do that has kind of been the math problem that we have continuously tried to solve since March of last year.”
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The NBA’s Miami Heat began using COVID-detecting dogs in January to screen the 2,000 fans it has allowed, but if anyone has any issues with the process, they can opt to take a traditional rapid antigen test instead.
“You’ve heard the drivers and everybody in the industry talk about the energy and the sense you get and the feeling you get when you’ve got all the fans right there, enjoying the action,” Bryant said.
“That’s what we’re going to get back to, and I’m a big optimist that we’re much closer to getting back to that than we were. I’m really excited for the day when that comes, and this is a tool that can help us get closer to that.”
The Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 NASCAR Cup Series race will be broadcast at 3:00 p.m. ET Sunday, March 21 on FOX. Those with a participating TV provider can also watch the race online and on smart devices using the FOX Sports app.