Covid-19, aka the Coronavirus, has dominated the news cycle as the viral pandemic has swept across the world and caused a number of race series to cancel events. F1, WRC, WEC, NASCAR, MotoGP, and IMSA have all shuttered planned races in the last week. But we’re still in the outbreak’s infancy and it's become increasingly likely that more closures and cancelations will occur, the latest being IndyCar’s removal of the St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin races.
"After careful consideration, including regular communication with our event promoters, health officials, and the city administrations in our respective race markets regarding COVID-19, we have made the decision to cancel all NTT INDYCAR Series events through April,” said an IndyCar statement released this morning. IndyCar’s cancelations come on the heels of Formula 1 dropping Australia, Bahrain, and Vietnam from the schedule, as well as NASCAR postponing the Miami and Atlanta races, along with a newly enacted 30-day ban on foreign nationals—excluding Brits—from entering the U.S., and what seems to be an imminent national emergency declaration by the President of the United States.
IndyCar’s statement added, “Although we are disappointed to delay the start to this INDYCAR season and will miss our incredible fans who support us each year in St. Petersburg, Birmingham, Long Beach, and Austin, the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners, and media will always remain our top priority. We will continue to coordinate with public health experts and government officials as we determine the appropriate plans for resuming our schedule."
The series' season opener was supposed to be this weekend’s race in St. Petersburg, Florida, but with its cancelation, along with the following three races, IndyCar won’t begin to race until the teams get to The GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 9th. At least that’s the tentative schedule, there’s still no vaccine available for the Coronavirus and no firm date for when one will become available has been issued by health officials.
If the GMR Grand Prix is canceled too, a likely scenario given the virus' communication, the first race would fall to the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24th. Yet, and not to bum everyone out further, that race isn’t plausible either as health officials wouldn’t likely be ready to approve 235,000 people cramming into Indy’s stands and infields so soon after halting the season.
The U.S. is still in the early days of how the coronavirus will affect the country’s commerce and events, but it seems that we’ll be seeing many more large-scale gatherings canceled for the foreseeable future.
The Drive will keep you updated as these stories develop.
Got a tip? Send us a note: [email protected]