For the first time in 74 years, Memorial Day weekend won’t feature the Indianapolis 500. IndyCar made a necessary but unfortunate decision to postpone the motorsport’s most iconic event last week.
The 2020 edition of the biggest IndyCar event of the year will now take place on Sunday, Aug. 23. It’s the first time in 103 years that event promoters have rescheduled the event intentionally.
Details on the rescheduled Indianapolis 500 weekend
The postponement stems from IndyCar’s concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Penske Entertainment CEO and President Mark Miles released a statement on the decision:
“…the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing. We will continue to focus on ways we can enhance the customer experience in the months ahead, and I’m confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world’s greatest race.”
This year’s race will be the first since Penske Entertainment finished its purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January. Roger Penske included his dismay in the same statement:
“The Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my favorite time of year, and like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500.”
Penske plans to honor doctors, first responders, National Guard members, and nurses at the event for their contributions during the pandemic. That’s just part of the action, however.
The action at the Brickyard begins on Wednesday, Aug. 12, with practice sessions that extend into the following day. The next day brings “Fast Friday,” and the weekend brings qualifying races.
Thursday, Aug. 20, features hot pit stop practice sessions and Indy Lights qualifying. The following day boasts final practice sessions and the Indy Lights Freedom 100.
The day before the race is Legends Day, which includes autograph sessions for the full field. Sunday, Aug. 23, then ends all the buildup with the 2020 Indianapolis 500.
This is an unprecedented move for auto racing, but these are unprecedented times. The last time this happened in motorsports was historical as well.
History of years without the Indy 500 since its inception
The only other times since 1917 that there was no Indianapolis 500, the world was at war. Both World Wars canceled the runnings of this race.
WWI did so in 1917 and 1918, while WWII forced the event’s cancellations in 1941-45. While there have been weather delays since 1946, IndyCar has never had to cancel or postpone the 500 before it began in any year since.
While this may disappoint a lot of motorsports fans, there could be a silver lining in the delay for bettors. It gives them more time to consider wagers on futures for the event, and it sets up the first-ever doubleheader with NASCAR.
NASCAR postponed an Xfinity Series race to Independence Day, the same day on which IndyCar has rescheduled the Indianapolis Grand Prix. NASCAR has also scheduled the Brickyard 400 for July 5, meaning the track will see three races within 26 hours.
These delays provide bettors extra time to research the best drivers in these fields. Simon Pagenaud won Indy 500 from the pole last year, marking 18 such victories for Team Penske.