The Bandimere family, owners of Bandimere Speedway, has been in court battles this summer with officials from the Jefferson County Health Department as related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bandimere Speedway is in Morrison, Colo., 20 minutes from Denver. Bandimere Speedway has been hosting races for 63 years.
The Bandimere family executive team runs the speedway and the family frustrations with restrictions for their events led to them host the “Stop the COVID Chaos” Rally, Sept. 1 at Bandimere Speedway.
The rally was billed to celebrate God and country and the people of the great state of Colorado.
“We actually opened up for the rally because we just felt we just needed some support, and we ended up getting a really good group of people, and it was peaceful,” said Tami Bandimere, who is part of Bandimere Speedway’s executive team. “It was the way it should have been. We didn’t have any issues with anybody, and we had families. And Michelle Malkin was there, a nationally well-known author, and that kind of thing. Patrick Neville, (R-Castle Rock) was there. (John) “Tig” Tiegen (member of Benghazi Annex Security Team) spoke.
“He really wasn’t on our agenda, but there were things that just happened that night that just kind of happened. And then we had our attorney, and lawyer Randy Corporon. We just wanted everybody to come out and just unite.”
Tami said the track received requirements from Jefferson County to follow for the rally.
“We had a real good group of people,” Tami said. “The county did say to us, they sent us the requirements, restrictions, and said, ‘Make sure we follow that.’ Well, you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink. And so, we had signs, and we had things, ‘Please social distance. Please wear your mask.’ But if people decide that they’re not going to, we can’t go around and police it the whole night.”
According to Tami, the rally drew anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 people.
The restrictions Bandimere Speedway must adhere to are as follows:
1) Bandimere Speedway cannot host an event in excess of 175 attendees
2) Cannot host an activity that doesn’t allow 6 feet of social distancing among non-family members
3) Cannot hold an event that serves food under the state’s restaurant guidelines
The Sept. 1 rally didn’t go unnoticed by the Jefferson County Health Department.
“What was really interesting is that two days later, so that was on a Tuesday, on Thursday the County hit us with a lawsuit saying that we had violated the restrictions and the mandates and that kind of thing. And we actually countered with a lawsuit that we had ready to go anyway,” Tami said. “We were just waiting for the right time. We’ve been sitting on it for a while and just waiting for the right time to basically pull the trigger.”
Tami said their countersuit was against Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the State Health Department and Dr. Mark Johnson and the Jefferson County Health Department.
“Now it’s kind of game on,” Tami said. “We’ve already canceled our Mile-High Nationals for this year. And that was something we’re not going to have it. It got postponed twice and it is out. NHRA contacted the state health department and they said that right now, 10% capacity, maybe 20% capacity, but they weren’t making any guarantees. Well, we can’t have an event with that low of capacity. So, we just came to a decision with NHRA that let’s just let it go for this year and let’s pick it back up next year and let’s just do an awesome event. So that’s off the table.”
With its marquee event – the Mile-High Nationals – called off, Tami discussed what’s left on the calendar for the Speedway.
“We’ve got about a month and a half left of events on our schedule, nothing major, nothing big,” she said. “Probably the thing that’s the most heartbreaking is that a lot of our street racing events have had to be put on hold. And those are the people that are going out on the streets and are racing in unsafe environments that are closing roads and closing highways. They’ve already said that they’re closing down Federal Boulevard in Denver down to two lanes because they’re having problems with street racing going on right now.”
Tami offered a quick solution to the issues on Federal Boulevard.
“The state could save themselves a whole lot of money by allowing us to just open up and let those people come to our facility and do it in a safe, supervised environment, rather than trying to cone things off, close things down and suppress people, because they’re not going to… They’re just going to rebel,” Tami said. “That’s what’s going to happen. And we know how to deal with those people. We’ve been there 63 years, and that’s why the facility was started, was to get people off the streets.”
The loss of the events at Bandimere Speedway has frustrated Tami and her family.
“We’ve postponed and canceled roll racing events, streetcar takeover, street tuner mayhem, our main event and night of fire and thunder looks like it’s running the risk, it’s been postponed twice, running the risk of being canceled all together.
So, I just don’t think people understand that it’s not just about economics for us, because that’s one thing. But the county, especially to lose the Mile-High Nationals. The hotels that we could fill and the other attractions and the restaurants and that kind of thing. And yet they’re not allowing anything really to happen.”
The main source of the Bandimere Speedway’s woes is with the state.
“They’ve told us is that the county could even go harsher than the state, but they have to go at least what the state has mandated,” Bandimere said. “So, I think they’re feeling like, ‘We’re not going any harder than the State so we’re doing… ‘But what they just don’t understand is that they’re closing places and they’re messing with our God given constitutional rights. They ask us to follow the law and we’re supposed to follow the law. And yet they’re making 170 plus executive orders without going through the proper lawmaking process. So, it’s basically not even a law, it’s just an executive order. So, if you go through the right process, we can maybe look at that, but that’s not the way it’s been happening.”
Tami addressed the plight that Bandimere Speedway is dealing with from a bottom-line perspective.
“Survive is an interesting word because here’s the deal. We’ve been running events so that we could stay open and we could stay open for our racers,” Tami said. “It’s not really what’s paying the bills and what’s going to help us out on the brunt of the big end. But it’s important enough for us to really try to survive as much as we can.
“So, we’re not throwing up our hands and saying, ‘We’re done.’ It’s going to be a little bit of negotiation back and forth to try to figure out how we’re going to be able to make it through the winter. But we’re hoping to do a few events during the winter as well. Colorado has some nice weather days, even in the winter, and we’ve just discussed that we might not have a winter break this year. We might not have an off season this year. There might still need to be some track rentals and some things that go on.”
Tami emphasized her family is exploring all options for events.
“One of the things about my dad (John Bandimere) that I’ve always admired is the fact that he’s never really been a no person,” she said. “He’s always been a, ‘Hey yeah, let’s talk about it. Let’s give it a shot.’ It’s that promoter mentality. And so, there’s been some things we’ve done that have been home runs. There’s been other things we’ve done that we’re just like, ‘Let’s just not talk about that.’ But we’ve never kicked anything off the table. So, I think at this point, we’re looking at whatever options we have to continue.
“Assuming that we can get clearance. Absolutely. It’s keeping under the numbers that they allow us to have or close to it, or just saying, “Well, here we go.” We’ve got 160 plus acres. We’ve got seating, grandstand seating, for more than 20,000.”
Tami, who attending the Denso U.S. Nationals this past weekend in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway, wished her state would ease restrictions like Indiana and Hendricks County have.
“I’m not exactly sure what their seating capacity here is, but I do know that this weekend, specifically, they finally have worked their way up to 50% capacity,” she said. “That would be amazing for us If we could have had anywhere from upwards of 40%.
“Just allowing us to have people come. The couple of events that we’ve had where we’ve had crew members come and spectators and that kind of thing, it’s just people really love getting out and we’ve got plenty of space for them to distance.”
With the Denver Broncos starting their NFL season this week, the Bandimere family is keeping an eye on if fans will attend their games.
“I think that’s one of the things is that we’re just watching the trends across the state right now to kind of see, “Tami said. “The thing that’s really frustrating is that there’s other entertainment venues that have been open with little to no restrictions, the Mile-High flea market, little to no restriction. They did have Bear Creek Lake Park open. Then they closed it. Then they reopened it. Now I think it’s closed again. Boondocks (Amusement park) out North, wide open. Top Golf, open.”
And, the list doesn’t stop there.
“There’s been other things that have gone on around town,” Tami said. “And when we address that with them… Oh, the City of Lakewood has a Lakewood Concert Series at the parks, a six or seven concert series. And when I sent the Facebook posting to them, I said, ‘We tried to have a drive-in movie and they denied it. And yet you’re allowing this?’ And their excuse was, ‘We didn’t know this what’s happening. Thanks for letting us know.’ But they’re still doing it. They’re still doing it because a girlfriend of mine said, ‘Oh yeah. It’s really fun. We went and it’s been great.’
“So that’s the thing that’s frustrating is that, why are we being targeted? And yet we’ve been here how many years? And we’ve never done anything stupid and yet our county just won’t fight for us. They absolutely will not fight for us.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) September 7, 2020