Drag Strip Owner Sues, Wins Right to Open up His Track Again

Posted by: Jesse Kleib on 11/16/2021

With the current state of affairs, we, as a nation, are traveling a road without a roadmap. Sure, previous outbreaks have given us some sort of an idea of what to do. However, there are nuances of COVID-19 that make it a one-of-a-kind situation.

The ins and outs of how to handle this situation have raised lots of questions. One of those questions is just how much we want the government to step in and guide the timeline. On one hand, perhaps shutting things down could be better for public health. On the other, though, there’s an argument that the government is overstepping its boundaries.

In the wake of the government taking control and keeping people at home, many small businesses have suffered. While some are able to revise their operating structure, others can’t open at all. Those deemed “non-essential” just have to sit and wait for all of this to blow over. This includes drag strips.

According to Competition Plus, one drag strip owner wasn’t about to take the situation sitting down. Rodney Viehland, the owner of Coles County Dragway was “told by local health officials and government officials he could not open his drag strip located in the southern part of Illinois,” says Competition Plus.

The owner of the strip says that the area hasn’t been hit too hard by the virus. Instead, it seems as if a scare from the heavy impact in Chicago has trickled down to Coles County. CP says that the entire county has suffered 22 cases with just one death compared to the 38,668 reported cases and 1,673 deaths in the Chicago area.

Viehland relayed his concern about staying closed, fearing that the drag strip couldn’t have made it past another month or so. Using mechanisms like raffles as fundraisers were helping in the interim. Racers were also trying to do their part and chip in where they could. Obviously, this wasn’t a sustainable long term strategy, though.

Viehland had tried to gain approval from local and county officials to open on four occasions. After failing all four times, he hired an attorney and a lawsuit was filed last Monday, May 4, 2020. The suit names Coles County State’s Attorney, Coles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Coles County Health Department as defendants.

The defendants had 48 hours to respond and by not responding, Viehland essentially won by forfeit. This means he will be able to operate the strip legally. Some might question why he didn’t just open anyway and operated without the lawsuit. Essentially, it was because the events would be shut down by law enforcement.

Breathing life again, the track would open for test-n-tune later that week. Viehland was more than within his rights to allow spectators but decided to keep the effort to drivers and crew only.

Viehland seems to still be taking precautionary measures including checking temperatures when people come in the gate.

Photo credit – Dragzine