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Ottawa man starts digital autograph trend with NASCAR drivers during COVID-19 pandemic
Ottawa's Jonathan Nause had his photo autographed by Junior NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan (Photo courtesy: Jonathon Nause)
OTTAWA -- Professional motorsports are at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an online letter to fans, NASCAR said races are postponed through May 3, for everyone’s safety and well-being.
“What is important now is bigger than the world of sports,” the letter reads.
Rising junior NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan has spent a lot more time on her phone during this extended break from the sport – according to her Twitter, a daily average of eight hours, 22 minutes to be exact.
“Since there’s no racing for a while. Some guy just tweeted a pic of him and I - and wanted me to sign it. So I screenshot it and signed it on my phone then sent it back,” the 18-year-old tweeted.
Ottawa’s Jonathan Nause is that “some guy,” who inadvertently started a trend of digital autographs.
After he tweeted Deegan a picture of him and her, she digitally signed it and sent it back – sparking a flood of other fans doing the same.
“All the racing community is kind of shut down, because nothing is happening. So, I knew it’d be a fun time to get something going online. I didn’t even try and start anything, I just wanted to get her autograph on a picture of her and I,” Nause said.
“Not gonna lie, laying in bed signing autographs ain’t so bad,” Deegan tweeted.
“Once she did it, just kind of exploded and all of INDYCAR, NASCAR, different forms of motorsports all got involved,” Nause said.
Soon enough, other drivers joined the movement, including American race car driver Ryan Eversley.
He Skyped CTV News Ottawa from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
After this weekend “it [usually] gets really busy, really quickly,” Eversley said.
“Sometimes between April, end of May we have like five races in six weeks and we have multiple series that a lot of race in, so it’s really a hard time to have a break like this.”
“It helps me not think about the craziness going on, but it also helps fans that are looking for something right now it gives them something to focus on, instead of the negative stuff,” said Eversley.
NASCAR plans to return to racing on May 9 in Martinsville, Virginia.
All 36 races are expected to go ahead this season, but the dates are to-be-determined as the pandemic evolves.