INDIANAPOLIS – The 104th Indianapolis 500 will be the first edition of the race not to take place in the month of May, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and IndyCar said on Thursday, announcing the postponement of the competition from May 24 to Aug. 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The month of May at IMS is my favorite time of year, and like our fans, I’m disappointed we’ve had to reschedule the Indy 500,” IMS and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a statement.
“However, 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,” he said.
First run in 1911, though the Indy 500 was canceled outright in 1917-1918 (World War I) and 1942-1945 (World War II), the race has never been held in any month but May.
The revised plans for this year’s installment of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” start with practice sessions on Aug. 12-13, to be followed by Fast Friday and two days of qualifying.
Action will resume on Thursday, Aug. 20 with pit-stop practice before practice and qualifying for the Indy Lights Freedom 100 race.
Final Indianapolis 500 practice is set for Aug. 21 as part of Miller Lite Carb Day. While the public drivers’ meeting and full-field autograph session will take place Aug. 22 as part of Legends Day presented by Firestone.
This will be the third Indy 500 to include two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso as he continues his pursuit of the Triple Crown of motor sport: Indianapolis, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Spaniard, who finished first in Monaco in 2006 and 2007 and took top honors at Le Mans in 2018 and 2019, will be behind the wheel of a Chevrolet-powered Arrow McLaren SP for the 2020 Indy 500.
In his first outing at IMS, Alonso enjoyed a spell in the lead, but a mechanical problem forced him to retire with 21 laps left, while he failed to qualify on the second occasion.
IndyCar announced two weeks ago that the first four races of the season, St. Petersburg (March 15), Barber (April 5), Long Beach (April 19) and Circuit of the Americas (April 26) would have to be delayed or canceled.
Of those events, all but St. Petersburg have since been canceled – IndyCar now hopes to make the Florida race the season finale – and the competition calendar is now supposed to begin May 30 with the Streets of Detroit.
The Indianapolis Grand Prix has been shifted from early May to July 4, a day before IMS hosts the NASCAR Brickyard 400.