North Carolina racetrack ordered shut down after holding races to near-capacity crowds despite virus restrictions

Spectators attended races at ACE Speedway in North Carolina, defying state orders.

(CNN)It simply moved too fast.

A North Carolina racetrack was shut down by the state's health department on Monday after it held a series of stockcar races to near-capacity crowds despite the coronavirus restrictions still in place meant to limit the virus' spread.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued the eight-page abatement order to Ace Speedway in Alamance County, claiming that a fourth event planned for June 19 placed the North Carolina public at "imminent risk" and could lead to a strained healthcare system, and thus had to be shut down.
Gov. Roy Cooper had banned gatherings of more than 25 people in the state as a part of its sweeping coronavirus restrictions when he issued an executive order on May 20 to halt the spread of Covid-19.
    But ACE Speedway held races on May 23, May 30 and June 6, drawing at least 2,000 spectators each and one race having possibly as many as 4,000, the NCDHHS said in its order. Its most recent gathering, according to CNN affiliate WFMY, wasn't promoted as a race, but a "peaceful protest of injustice and inequality everywhere."
    Protests have been taking place in cities across the US and around the world, sparked by the ​police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, and thousands of people have been taking to the streets demanding justice for Floyd, as well as an end to racial inequality and police brutality.
    But the June 6 event was, in fact, a stock car race, according to the abatement order, which said more than 2,000 people "sat, stood, and cheered for several hours, often shoulder-to-shoulder in the grandstands."
    That seemed to be the final straw for the state. It isn't clear, however, who will enforce the order.
    Alamance County Sheriff Terry S. Johnson has already said he wouldn't enforce the crowd restrictions, calling the state's targeting of ACE Speedway unfair.
    "I have found through research and contacts with other Sheriffs in the state, that numerous speedways and Go Cart Tracks ran this weekend in North Carolina with no action being taken on those owners or even warnings given," Johnson said in a letter to the governor's office on Saturday, according to CNN affiliate WXII.
    "This concerns me greatly to know that my citizens have basically been singled out for the same alleged violations that are occurring all over the State of North Carolina."
      CNN couldn't confirm that there were other large crowd violations as he stated. An email sent to Sheriff Johnson on Tuesday wasn't returned. Ace Speedway did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.
      Alamance County has at least 553 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths, according to the county's website. North Carolina has at least 36,862 coronavirus cases and 1,068 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.