Governor Eric Holcomb extends the public health emergency for another 30 days.
INDIANAPOLIS – Despite what you may have been told, “no news” is not always “good news”, at least when it comes to the ever-changing landscape of the IndyCar 2020 calendar.
Announcements such as Monday’s that eliminated the double header for the Detroit Grand Prix while creating a pair of new features and a third race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway come after long and frustrating days and weeks.
And when series owners don’t hear publicly how their industry is evolving almost as fast as the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty creates fear.
And this is not a world in which Roger Penske lives.
Meyer Shank co-owner Mike Shank likes it. “Yeah, we may have updates every 7-10 days, but I prefer having continuous updates and being transparent rather than nothing – especially in these times when none of us have never been before, “said Shank.
“I will always feel better having some kind of direction, even if it needs to be changed. It’s better than not knowing. I can live with flexibility and back and forth and try to do this or that, but as long as I know what they are trying, I feel like we can do it. ”
That’s not to say Shank and other IndyCar owners across the paddock are completely satisfied with Monday’s developments, which came less than two weeks after Penske, the CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. Mark Miles, president of ‘IndyCar Jay Frye and IMS President Doug Boles announced an even bigger overhaul. which moved the May IMS events (GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500) elsewhere on the calendar, while sliding around three additional races (Mid-Ohio, Gateway and Portland) to accommodate the IMS changes.
And at this point, owners and drivers still don’t know which race will serve as the final of the 2020 series. The year could end at the all-new Harvest Grand Prix, which will likely take place on the IMS 14-lap road circuit on October 3, or a resumption to be determined of the Saint Petersburg Grand Prix, which almost a month served as the epicenter of the monumental season of change for IndyCar.
Again, everything could change by May.
For the weekends of July 17-18 (now the Iowa racing pair) and September 19-20 (Laguna Seca’s own dual functionality), the extra race puts extra stress on large and small teams, but especially on the oval tracks. As it stands, the Indy 500 on August 23 would be the fifth oval race on this year’s calendar – a massive change from the original 2020 calendar, when the 500 was the first planned oval. It’s only in the oval days of the IRL that drivers would have as much track experience before arriving in Indianapolis.
Originally in 2020, the 500 was supposed to kick off the oval calendar, with only oval pilots such as Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan making their season debuts, while teams had had months to tinker and refine their rides for the Super Bowl series.
Now these plans have been overturned, with more changes possible. to come sooner rather than later.
“I understand why we do them,” said Shank, referring to the additional double headers added on Monday. “I’m not crazy about some of them, maybe, but it won’t make me want to run.
“St. Pete, I prefer to have a duplicate there than in some other places, to be honest, but let’s see what happens. If we can get to Texas on June 6, it’s a good thing. It means that our world is working again. “
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Penske and company are still two months away, with signs in parts of the country and around the world indicating a potential stabilization point in the current pace of the pandemic, given the widespread restrictions on staying at home.
But these same conditions, in the end, decided the fate of this year’s Detroit GP more than six weeks after the first of two green flags this weekend. Michigan has its own statewide restrictions, and is not expected to be lifted until April 13. Even with the namesake company of Penske in charge of race promotions for the race scheduled from May 30 to 31, workers should have started construction of the course at Belle Isle on April 20 to the last. It didn’t seem viable.
Also, when the IndyCar calendar opened up a bit in October, the island had too many pre-scheduled events that couldn’t be mixed up to host a rescheduled IndyCar race.
“I know everyone around promoting the event was trying to find another date, and that was the goal of their efforts,” said Miles. “But there is a limit to their delay in the year, because they are a little north of us. “
Miles noted that adding races to Iowa and Laguna Seca had long been the emergency plan for a Detroit cancellation, and said it was far from the last in preparation. With the Olympic Games postponed to next year and IndyCar not yet having benefited from two open weekends in July and August (July 24-26 and July 31-2 August), these are potential options for IndyCar and its NBC broadcast partner.
In addition, Miles also said that the next race on the record – the Genesys 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6 – has a backup plan, but he would not clarify if these two were benchmarks.
For the moment, the president of the TMS, Eddie Gossage, “remains optimistic” about the holding of his IndyCar race on its date of June, according to Miles.
“And if that changes, we are optimistic, we can find a day that would work to reschedule it,” he said. “We have emergency plans that give us good options, frankly, no matter when the course of the virus and public health issues get us started.
“If the situation clearly shows that the next race cannot go as planned, we have options. But under these circumstances, we are in a good position and we are confident that we can have this 14-15 race calendar this year, assuming things get back to normal this summer. “
Now at the back of the 2020 slate, away from potential dangers, there is another opportunity for Penske to present his new crown jewel to the racing world – for the third time in three months after starting with the double IndyCar / NASCAR – header weekend around July 4 – the GMR Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400.
May 11, 2019: The field of 24 IndyCars led by Chip Ganassi Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist (10) takes a turn one in the first lap of the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo: Matt Kryger / IndyStar)
IMS Harvest GP recalls the beginnings of the racing capital of the world. In 1916, the track hosted in September a series of three races called Harvest Classic, which would be the only race organized at IMS outside of May until the Brickyard 400 of 1994.
In an age of so many constantly changing pieces, it was a struggle to find a catchy name for the new race. According to Boles, the president of the IMS, one suggestion was “IndyCar GP No. 2”. It was not until last Thursday that he linked the new fall race, which will share the weekend with the 8-hour Indianapolis endurance race on October 4, with the track’s past.
Since helping to launch the new GMR Grand Prix in the fall of 2013, Boles and others around IMS have dreamed of finding a home for an IMS IndyCar race outside of May traditions – to help create a secondary IndyCar identity and building on the momentum May provides each year.
Although it was clear at the moment that it was only a one-off event, the circumstances were perfect, in unfortunate conditions.
“We are already prepared, in terms of corner workers, camera points and all that. That way the weekend was easy to tackle, “he said, referring to the fixed plans for the road course endurance race. “And that gives us the opportunity to talk a little bit about our history. “
All of Monday’s news can become theoretical months on the road, or it can just become the third modification in a long line needed to re-establish some sort of 2020 championship.
Ultimately, however, for series makers, it means IndyCar is on its guard as much as it can be in these times. When the opportunity arises, with or without fans and whatever the time of day or week, the owners and pilots of the series will rush to the track which will be revealed to them in order to regain a certain sense of normalcy. .
“We’re all going to bleed on this thing, but we’re all doing what we can to survive it,” said Shank. “These things are not all ideal, but these times are not ideal, and we have to do what we have to do to get through this, and ultimately, we will do whatever they put in place so that we can run. “
“If it’s like this now, I’m just happy to run. “