Fans will be able to hear the roar of the engines and watch furious finishes Thursday at Skagit Speedway — they'll just need an internet connection to do so.

With many sports and activities still curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the speedway's season will get underway with three classifications of racing but no fans in the stands.

Instead, fans will be able to watch the weekly Thursday Night Thunder events through a pay-per-view option at skagitspeedway.tv. Cost is $24.95, which track owner Steve Beitler said is the typical cost of one adult and one junior ticket.

Beitler said he's been closely monitoring other tracks and their attempts to bring racing to the fans during a time state and federal guidelines bar large gatherings.

"The early ones were really successful," he said.

Beitler said the track hopes to offer a polished presentation, including on-screen lineups and live announcing from track announcer Kaleb Hart. 

He said racing begins later than usual, with qualifying starting at 7 p.m. and racing beginning at 7:30 p.m., in order to allow drivers and crews to get to the track and fans to get home and settled after work.

Beitler said he hopes the races are tight, between two and two-and-a-half hours — and exciting.

"I'm so excited it's crazy. Everyone's excited. The racers are excited. Some are coming from Oregon, some from all over. They're ready to race," he said.

Beitler said Thursdays were determined to be the most likely day for fans to tune in to racing.

"Thursday night's the better night to get views," he said. 

Outlaw tuners, modified and sprint cars will all be in Thursday's program, with about 25 sprint cars expected.

The sprint car field is expected to include stalwarts such as former World of Outlaws driver Jason Solwold, former Dirt Cup champion Brock Lemley, and multiple-time track champion Colton Heath. Trey Starks, who grabbed his first top-five finish of the season last week at Park Jefferson International Speedway in North Sioux City, South Dakota, is also scheduled to appear.

Racing teams will be expected to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

— Reporter Trevor Pyle: 360-416-2156, tpyle@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Sports_SVH, Facebook.com/bytrevorpyle

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