Tucson Speedway hosts drive-in movie night

Tucson Speedway hosts drive-in movie night

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With few entertainment options outside the home these days, drive-in theatres are making a comeback.

The Tucson Speedway racetrack hosted a drive-in showing of “Days of Thunder” on Thursday night. It was one of the first public gatherings in Pima County since the stay-at-home order went into place March 30 and hundreds of people came to enjoy the show.

Cactus Drive-In Theatre, which put on the movie in partnership with Tucson Speedway, was in contact with public health officials prior to the event to make sure everyone who came was safe.

Tucson Speedway hosted a drive-in movie night on Thursday, May 7, 2020. Owners of the track got the green light from county health officials.
Tucson Speedway hosted a drive-in movie night on Thursday, May 7, 2020. Owners of the track got the green light from county health officials. (Source: Source. Tucson Speedway)

For many, the experience was nostalgic.

“When my kids were small, we would always go to the De Anza [drive-In] Theatre and we would – like we are going right now – take pizza and sodas and we would put a mattress in the back of the truck and that’s how we would spend our evenings,” said Rose Carabeo. “Here at the drive-in, I can come in my slippers. I can be comfortable.”

For Jeff Eppley, who rolled up in a 1956 Chevy, it was a chance to bring the good old days to his grandkids.

“[I’m] no stranger to drive-ins, we brought our own speaker,” Eppley said as he pulled out a vintage sears radio. “Out here, you’re not stuck at home, you’re in the atmosphere.”

It’s a somewhat different atmosphere than the one Eppley is used to, though.

Unlike Cole Trickle, played by Tom Cruise, in “Days of Thunder,” drivers did not “wander all over the track.” If fact, they were carefully guided to parking spots that allowed 8 to 10 feet of space in between vehicles.

Some opted to wear facemasks while outside of their vehicles and handwashing stations were set up at each portable restroom.

“That’s how we are going to do it,” said Christopher Kazanes, co-owner of Cactus Drive-In. “We are going to follow the guidelines put out by the CDC and public health.”

“I think people are [anxious] to get out of the house. For two hours, they can be somewhere else,” said John Lashley, a promoter for Tucson Speedway. “And we need to start operating the track again.”

With theatres closed across the state, Kazanes said drive-ins are back in style.

“People need entertainment,” he said.

“We are away from each other [at the drive-in] and I think at this time right now, this is great!” said Bill Carabeo.

Thursday’s screening was a soft opening for Cactus Drive-In. Kazanes hopes to host weekly pop-up events at different locations around the city. To keep track of movie showings, click here.

Tucson Speedway plans to get back to car racing starting May 23.

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