The Uncertainty Ends For Now

We all knew it was coming, but when it happened it was a very empty feeling. The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 has finally been postponed from its originally scheduled date of May 24, to Sunday August 23. Once the Olympics were cancelled, the dominoes started falling.

I was holding out hope that somehow, things would turn and the Indianapolis 500 would be the first major sporting event to return. But at least we have something more concrete to focus on. May 24 was getting to be very slippery.

The GMR Grand Prix will run on Saturday July 4, in conjunction with the Brickyard 400 weekend. They’ve been talking about a NASCAR/IndyCar double-header, so there you go. It makes sense, because the Xfinity Series is running on the road course that same weekend anyway. I figured it would happen at some point, but I just never envisioned it would happen this way.

When I referred to some dominoes falling once the Olympics were postponed, a couple of August race dates had to change. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio that was originally scheduled for Aug 16 was moved up a week to Aug 9. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Wide World Technology Raceway (Gateway) moved back a week from Saturday August 22 to Sunday August 30. I’m a little confused how that’s going to work, because that is not Labor Day weekend. Gateway is usually a Saturday night race, but the IndyCar website is already listing a 2:00 CDT start time. That means sweltering humidity. I’m not sure what the logic behind that was. Portland has also moved back a week to give teams a two-week break over Labor Day, after what will be a very busy August.

So, Mid-Ohio will run on Sunday August 9, then we are suddenly into the non-traditional Month of August. Three days after the road course at Mid-Ohio, practice for the Indianapolis 500 starts on Wednesday Aug 12, continues on Thursday Aug 13 with Fast Friday on Friday Aug 14. Qualifying will take place that weekend following the two-day format that was already planned for May. Pit-Stop practice and Indy Lights Practice will begin on Thursday Aug 20, with Carb Day on Friday Aug 21. There will be some sort of an expanded Pit Stop Challenge on Carb Day as well as the final practice session. Legends Day will be held on Saturday Aug 22. The May concerts for Carb Day or Legends Day are now officially cancelled. If you held tickets for either of those concerts in May, refunds should be forthcoming through IMS.

Then of course, the Indianapolis 500 will be run on Sunday Aug 23 at 1:00 on NBC.

Lost in a lot of this was news that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg would be revived at the end of the season, most likely in October. Unfortunately, Barber, Long Beach and COTA have fallen victim to the coronavirus. But to salvage a fourteen-race season out of all of this is better than I was expecting. Some sports may lose giant chunks of their season, or lose their playoffs and championships altogether. So to lose only three races out of a seventeen race season is pretty incredible. The bad part? The season will now kick off with the double-header at Belle Isle. Ugh! By then, I’ll be so glad to see racing, I won’t care where it is.

Obviously, I was holding out hope that the race could have kept its original date. In a press conference yesterday, Mark Miles stated he still believed it could have run in May, but by moving it to August – everyone felt more certain about the date. I agree. I was growing weary of Memorial Day sitting there and the Indianapolis 500 still penciled in. I hoped against hope that it would somehow be run, but every day it seemed less likely. Now we reset and focus on the magical Month of August. The original date was to be 57 days from today. We are now 147 days and counting. But there’s an upside to this. When the race is over, we don’t have to wait an entire year for the next one. We’ll only be nine months away from the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500. I can live with that. Is it August yet?

George Phillips

9 Responses to “The Uncertainty Ends For Now”

  1. Paul Fitzgerald Says:

    Come on George…you need to lighten up on the Detroit races especially this year. It seems to me that after 8 months with no racing, you should be thrilled to death to have two races in two days. Not sure why you hate Detroit but some of us don’t. Please stop the negativity and the hate. Love your articles but enough is enough.

    • I’ve attended the Duel in Detroit four separate times and I think it’s a great venue/event. I know George has never been to the Detroit Grand Prix, which is understandable. If I was traveling back and forth from Nashville to Indy every weekend for a month, I wouldn’t feel like going to Detroit right after that either. But….I think if George ever made it up to the Duel, he’d have a better opinion of it.

  2. SkipinSC Says:

    As expected with Mr. Penske, he has opted to do something at least realistic to plan ahead. the idea of getting in a 14 race schedule works far better than I expected, and leading off with Detroit is probably good. Would I rather see the 500 on Labor Day weekend? Not sure. Personally, it would be fine with me, but I think you have to weigh attendance and television.

    Labor Day weekend isn’t what it used to be back in the days when most schools began just after Labor Day. Hell, most kids are in school by mid-late August now. Plus, you may have other sports trying to save a season too, PLUS the 800 pound gorilla, the NFL and it’s little brother NCAA.. If they get 14 races in, I’ll be impressed (and maybe a little surprised.)

    What ever we get in the way of attendance is something we’ll have to live with. I have 2 in the Southeast Vista that’ll be going on Stub Hub tomorrow. I can’t see sitting there in August.

    • James T Suel Says:

      Well I like you held on to hoping things would come together format, but I belive this is about as good as we could get. So as you said is it August YET!

    • billytheskink Says:

      Indycar also likely avoided scheduling on Labor Day in Indianapolis in order to be a good neighbor to the NHRA and the US Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway/IRP, who have occupied that date for many years. There is no good reason to have two major motorsports events like that happening on the same weekend in the same metro area.

  3. Good work by IndyCar to maximize numbers of races

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Gateway was a victim of the series and NBC trying (and largely succeeding) in squeezing Indy and the moving races into a TV schedule that also demands attention from NASCAR and others. Its move to the afternoon of Sunday August 30 was directly related to NASCAR, which has the 400 mile race at Daytona (which ceded its July 4 weekend date to the Brickyard this year) scheduled on that Saturday night.

  5. Mark Wick Says:

    In my opinion, IndyCar has done a good job of giving everybody new target dates for planning. I am not a medical expert, but I am an experienced journalist with 50 years experience gathering and sorting through information to try to get solid information. Based on what I am seeing, I don’t believe running the Detroit races as scheduled is realistic, and I have serious doubts that running any raced this year will be wise. I hope this schedule will happen as it is now and that there will be no significant reasons to regret that it did, but there is just too much uncertainty about what is safe.

  6. One thing about Labor Day, I know that date makes more sense but people forget the NHRA US Nationals, their biggest race, is on labor day just down the road at IRP, ORP, whatever you call it these days. It’s fair not to step on those toes…

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