Races at Ona Speedway back on after being cancelled due to high water

ONA, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Sports fans have been craving something new to watch with COVID-19 shutting down so many leagues and events.

One of the first sporting events since everything shut down will take place Saturday in Ona, West Virginia, with empty stands at Ona Speedway.

One of the first local sporting events since everything shut down will be taking place Saturday in Ona with empty stands.

Ironically, the eagerly awaited end to of the sports drought was almost derailed by flooding.

"Our whole pit area was under water," Ona Speedway operator Thomas Mays said.

Races at the Ona Speedway were supposed to begin in mid-April, but the coronavirus pandemic put sports on hold.

"It's been a big financial issue for us," Mays said.

Races in West Virginia got the green light to resume, but without crowds.

"Now we have to do something we've never done, and that's race without spectators," Mays said.

Close to 80 teams, including auto racers from as far away as Indiana and New York, signed up to race in Ona Saturday for an event dubbed the Cabin Fever Bash.

On top of a global pandemic, organizors also had to deal with a challenge from Mother Nature.

"I was very frustrated," Mays said. "When I pulled in this morning and saw all the water, I was ready to just throw my hands up."

The Mud River came out of its banks, covering and saturating the race track's parking area.

Mays says they made the call Friday morning to cancel the event.

"It's so saturated, if you start bringing trucks and trailers in, they'd be buried up and stuck up, and it would've just been a mess," he said.

After cancelling, he got feedback begging him to find a way to make it work. He got permission to use the Ona Airpark for parking, and now the event is back on.

"Obviously we won't make any money out of it," Mays said. "We may lose a little ourselves, but hopefully we'll rebound in the long run in the summer if we can get fans."

They're expecting crowds will be allowed back at race tracks by June 13, but maybe only at half capacity.

You can watch Saturday's event on their Facebook page.