This Year’s Indy 500 Will Be The First One Not To Take Place In May
For the first time in its 104-year history, the Indianapolis 500 will not take place in May, having been officially postponed to August 23.
The announcement, somewhat predictably, is the latest in an on-going raft of changes to the international motorsport calendar in an attempt to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The news follows today’s announcement that the 2020 Goodwood Festival of Speed will also be postponed.
IndyCar’s blue ribbon event was originally set to take place at The Brickyard on Sunday 24 May as part of the annual ‘month of May’ which, in recent years, has also included the Indianapolis road course round. The latter has also been postponed, and as part of a preliminary schedule posted by IndyCar’s governing body, will now slot in as round six on July 4. Interestingly, that’s just one day, before NASCAR’s own Cup Series race at Indianapolis.
“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,” said IndyCar icon Roger Penske, whose Penske Entertainment group now owns both IMS and the IndyCar Series. “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.
“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.”
The revised schedule means that Free Practice sessions for the 500 will now take place on 12-13 August, followed by ‘Fast Friday’ on 14 August and qualifying on 15-16 August.
Inevitably, the 2020 Indy 500 will comfortably go down in history as the latest ever running of the race during the calendar year. From 1911 to 1973, the event was routinely held on Memorial Day regardless of the day of week. Hitherto, no Indy 500 has been held outside May, with nine iterations – 1915 (Ralph DePalma, winner), 1919 (Howdy Wilcox), 1926 (Frank Lockhart), 1937 (Wilbur Shaw), 1948 (Mauri Rose), 1954 (Bill Vukovich), 1965 (Jim Clark), 1967 (A.J. Foyt) and 1986 (Bobby Rahal) – taking place on May 31.
From 1974 onwards, the Indy 500 has always been scheduled for the corresponding Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and only twice since then has this failed to happen. In 1986, heavy rain meant the race, ultimately won by Bobby Rahal en-route to the first of his three IndyCar titles, was postponed to the following Saturday. In 1997, weather problems caused the race to be postponed twice, with Arie Luyendyk claiming his second win on Tuesday May 27 having already completed 16 laps on the Monday!
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