INDIANAPOLIS — That noise you hear above lawn mowers outside, well that’s the sound of the loud ovations from cheers belonging to motorsports fans around the world. No, we still aren’t seeing race cars on race tracks – yet. These fans are instead cheering the last two moves made by the NTT IndyCar Series.
On March 26, IndyCar announced the first wave of scheduling updates for the 2020 season. In that round of moves, we knew then that Long Beach, COTA and Barber were off the slate this season. We also knew that the two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would get separated and moved from May 9 to July 4 (GP) and from May 24 to Aug. 23 (‘500). Also, Mid-Ohio would get shuffled up a week with Portland moving back a week too.
Now, we get more updates.
On Monday, IndyCar unveiled more updates. This round, the Detroit Grand Prix race weekend will join Long Beach, COTA and Barber as off for 2020. With Detroit becoming a coronavirus hotspot recently, it was best suited to move this race away from 2020 and try again in 2021. To make up for the loss of both races, IndyCar made some more drastic moves as a result.
Iowa in July will be a doubleheader weekend now with two races (Friday night-Saturday night) around the 7/8-mile bullring instead. Also, Laguna Seca in September will now be a twinbill show as well, meaning the loss of two races in Detroit will be made up between these two weekends. Then, a third event at IMS will take place in October with us now actually gaining a race, with 15 races being run in a four month span between June-October.
The season will now start June 6 at the Texas Motor Speedway. It will end in the middle or even late October on the streets of St. Pete if they can find a suitable date. If not, then Oct. 3 on the IMS road course will serve as the season finale.
So, what’s all of this mean.
Street Courses Biggest Loser In This
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but it seems like the biggest loser in all of these schedule shakeups are the street courses. Long Beach and Belle Isle are canceled, not postponed, for 2020. That’s three of the five street course races now being gone. St. Pete has been moved to the season finale, as of now, but that’s not set in stone either. Toronto is still on for mid July but that race’s future for 2020 is in doubt. The city has a stay-at-home order through the end of June. It’s going to be nearly impossible to get a track built in the city streets during that protocol. Then, if they wait until that order is lifted, there’s no way that they can get a street circuit constructed in a week’s time. That normally takes several weeks prior to build and several weeks after to tear down.
Toronto could be the latest race affected by all of this. As of now, they’re on, but that could obviously change. A make up date will be tough too.
The reason these races are tough to make up are due to the fluid nature of this situation. We don’t know when this all is going to end. It’s hard to find another date to make up a street race without knowing. The permanent facilities are just that, permanent. Street course races are temporary circuits run in downtown metropolitan areas, meaning none of them are set up now. To set them up, you need road ways closed, stands built, concrete walls put up, tire barriers moved in place, etc. Then, you need zoning, permits and more paperwork hassles to go through. This all takes at least a month to accomplish. It’s a big disruption. That’s why you can’t just move to another weekend.
There’s a real chance we could have one, if not any, street course races run in 2020.
We haven’t added any new oval tracks to the schedule, but due to the subtraction of races and the addition of a second race at Iowa, six of the 15 races to run this season will contest on ovals. That’s obviously a bigger percentage than five of 17, an 11-percent increase in fact (40%-29%).
Also, you better be on your game on them. Four of the first seven races now are on ovals including five of the first eight and six of the first nine.
No Rest For The Weary
From the start of August through October, IndyCar will get a ton of attention. The reason? They’ll be busy.
They go to Mid-Ohio on Aug. 9, to Indy for practice from Aug. 12-14 to qualifying for the Indy 500 on Aug. 15-16, to practice again on Aug. 20-21, the Indy 500 itself on Aug. 23 to St. Louis on Aug. 30, a breather for a few weeks, then Portland on Sept 13, a doubleheader at Laguna Seca on Sept. 19-20, a week off then to Indy on Oct. 3 and then maybe the finale at St. Pete a couple weeks later.
In a span of nine weeks, IndyCar will be in action during seven of them including several days during the week.