INDIANAPOLIS — The COVID-19 has affected all of our lives either directly or indirectly. We may not have been sick or even know anyone that has, but our lives have still been disrupted in some nature. This virus that’s been spreading across the globe has shut down countries and affected pretty much every business in existence, including motorsports.
Nothing is the same as we sit here today. There’s not many events that are on schedule with where they thought they’d be at the beginning of last month. As different series across the world try to adapt and change future schedules in hopes they one day get to return this year, the reality of this situation is still very fluid.
No one knows how this is going to end and when this is going to stop. No one. Announcing any schedule changes still seems premature. Those aren’t set in concrete as any changes being announced will later get changed again. I mean IndyCar only went 12 days between revisions.
If you’ve also been paying attention, you’d see that most racing series around the world are moving their returns back further and further. The news content coming out now are revisions to schedules and those come weekly.
Here’s what we know at this point – NASCAR is supposed to start a full month sooner than everyone else but that should be changing here as soon as this week. As we sit on the first Tuesday in April (7th), the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway is set to take place on Saturday, May 9. But, Virginia is under a stay-at-home order through June 10. How can a race take place in the middle of all of that?
So, that would push the next date to the All-Star weekend but do you really restart your season after only four races being run this year with an All-Star event? You can buy a week if you don’t and restart on Sunday, May 24 for the Coca-Cola 600. Where that’s a problem is, North Carolina is under a stay-at-home order through April 29 and the other two races on Memorial Day weekend have already been moved. Would NASCAR really race at Charlotte when everyone else is off?
That would put them at Kansas on May 31 then to Michigan on June 7. While that seems somewhat realistic, the state of Michigan has had their outbreaks recently and have already lost the North American Auto Show and the IndyCar doubleheader weekend in Belle Isle recently due to the Coronavirus. Would a NASCAR race be run when those other events couldn’t? While Belle Isle (IndyCar) is a temporary circuit and would need to be constructed in the middle of a pandemic and the Auto Show being an international event while the Michigan International Speedway is a permanent facility, all signs are this race getting moved back to a doubleheader later in the year. That would cause some reshuffling of the NASCAR schedule which in all reality, would be the perfect restart time which would lineup with IndyCar at Texas (June 6) and NHRA in Florida for the Gatornationals (June 7).
IndyCar then would have a week off before returning at Road America and Richmond but can Richmond take place two weeks after their order comes to an end? Remember, Virginia is under that stay-at-home order through June 10. Then in July, IndyCar is supposed to be in Toronto but they’re under a stay-at-home order through June. There’s no way they can work on constructing a street circuit during this order. That would move Toronto back or even off the schedule for 2020 too. So, IndyCar’s revisions are far from over as a third revision will have to come at some point.
Formula One was set to resume on June 14 in Montreal but that’s a race that went in question to postponed as announced on Tuesday. Two weeks later is their new season opener in France but that race is also in doubt with Le Mans on the sports car side already being pushed back from a week prior to that to September. Why would F1 race a week later of a postponed event? That could push F1 back to a July start at the very earliest which now seems most likely.
IMSA has now lost Belle Isle which means their next race would be on June 28 in Watkins Glen but New York has been hit hard and a race in a little more than two months in that state seems unlikely. Like F1, they could get pushed back to July as well.
As you can see, the new updates are for a June return but the most realistic part of this return is in July. Even that may be too soon. We don’t really know when this pandemic is going to end. When is normal going to be normal again? Some are saying when we get a vaccine but that likely isn’t coming at any point of 2020. If we want this thing to go away without a vaccine, the best way is to social distance like we’re doing and if we social distance, how can we race?
It’s early April and the new start dates with the current exception of NASCAR are mostly set for two months from this point. I know a lot can change in that time frame but until it starts changing for the good, we are going to keep pushing the seasons back later and later.