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The motorsports industry is starting its engines. Like most sports in the age of COVID-19 uncertainty, the motorsports industry has been grappling with what to do and when.

For one motorsport organization, a modified plan has been put into place to keep the races going safely. NASCAR announced at the end of April 2020 that it would resume its events and schedule beginning May 17, 2020, which was held without fans in the stands. NASCAR recently held its first race with a limited crowd of fans in Homestead, Florida. Along with the announcement came a health and safety plan for future events that included one-day shows, use of personal protective equipment, health screenings for everyone entering the facilities, social distancing protocols, and strict limits to the number of people granted access to each facility.

NASCAR, or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, a privately-owned American auto racing company, organizes stock-car racing events involving production-based automobiles. NASCAR-sanctioned races are held all across the United States, and now, as a part of NASCAR’s new global initiative in Canada, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. NASCAR, however, is only part of the motorsports picture.

The National Hot Rod Association is the largest auto racing organization in the world, representing some 180,000 drag racers in the US who race in 40 different classes, including four professional classes. Drag racing is one of the few sports with rules that are globally consistent. Therefore, in addition to racing on US tracks, many drag racers will at some point find their way to tracks throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

While delayed by COVID-19, NHRA Drag Racing will start its 2020 season in the US with the relaunch of its Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in mid-July. The season will conclude with the crowning of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champions November 13-15 at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. The revised, more condensed 2020 racing schedule will consist of 19 events scattered throughout the country and including races in Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston, Las Vegas in addition to seven divisions adding hundreds more races throughout the county.

Pandemic prep
In a recent interview with National Dragster magazine, NHRA President Glen Cromwell outlined some of the decisions that have been made before NHRA drag racing could start during the COVD-19 pandemic. As he explained, the NHRA staff have been in regular communication with their member tracks as they initiated a phased-in approach to opening tracks and returning to racing.

The trade association is working to help its member tracks be safe and responsible. NHRA is providing guidance and advice on everything from taking entry fees online to digital tech cards to automated time slips to minimize the amount of contact between racer and track staff, as well as recommended distance for the parking of race teams, limiting the number of people on the starting line, sanitization practices. Member tracks are also sharing best practices.

While track owners look to take precautions to protect themselves, visiting racers and spectators at the tracks, race car owners need to be focused on protecting their cars especially now given the more condensed season schedule.

...race car owners need to be focused on protecting their cars especially now given the more condensed season schedule.

Risks to racecars are never idle
When COVID-19 rendered the racetracks idle, some owners of racing cars started canceling their insurance policies, perhaps thinking the risks to their vehicles are significantly decreased when not being transported. There are however still some serious loss exposures for idle vehicles. Weather is one. Extreme weather can result in wind or flood damage to cars whether they are idle for long periods of time or in-transit to the next race. Other big exposures are fire and vandalism.

Maintaining insurance, particularly policies that cover cars when they are not racing, should be a financial priority. The cost of premiums relative to the cost of replacing just one car make that decision much easier to make. Owners need to realize that their risk exposures start from the day they buy a car to the day they sell it.

Insuring drag cars as they get moving again
Now, as states reopen for business and tracks and associations dust off their racing schedules, it’s time for owners to consider all their insurance options. Afterall, given the cost of one race car can start at $50,000 and top $300,000, the exposure is real. Damage to a car that is idle, in-storage or in-transit can be costly.

Motorsport insurance policies are designed to cover damage while the car is in transit, in the shop, stored and at the racetrack while not in competition. Drag racers do not drive their cars to each racetrack. Rather they rely on tractor trailers to move their cars from here to there, and therefore, they rely on inland marine insurance coverage – a coverage designed to protect moveable property.

To further protect their race cars and other associated expenses, other coverages available today offer protection beyond the transport of the vehicles including, but not limited to the following (sub-limits and time limitations apply when applicable):

  • Theft of or damage to:
    • Race vehicles (while not undergoing actual racing)
    • Equipment, tools, spare parts, or trailers
  • Temporary coverage for an unscheduled replacement race vehicle and substitute trailer
  • Coverage while in storage or undergoing repair
  • Debris removal expenses
  • Fire department service charges
  • Loss adjustment expenses
  • Necessary repairs to protect from further damage
  • Newly acquired property
  • Pollutant clean up and removal expenses
  • Reward coverage
  • Valuable papers and records
  • Void service contract or extended warranty

As with any insurance coverage, coverage for race cars is based on loss history. If there have been claims against previous policies, underwriters will base their decisions on those losses, as well as other factors, such as storage facilities, transportation methods, amount of equipment hauled, before making both a coverage and pricing determination.

Despite this year’s pandemic obstacles, the motorsports industry and their partners are collaborating and working together to make sure the 2020 racing season has a strong start and finish. And whether their cars are sitting idle or in-transit to any one of the hundreds of races scheduled from July to November, drivers can rely on today’s specialized motorsport inland marine insurance to assure their cars are well-protected.

About the authors
Ken Mueller is AXA XL’s Southeast Regional Director of Marine. He can be reached at
Mel Eaves is the founder and owner of Gulfway Motorsports Insurance and a 30+year veteran of the drag racing industry. He can be reached at Learn more about Mel at

Learn more about AXA XL’s Motorsports Coverage Solution here.

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

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In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
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