INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 24 has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic, and won’t run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946.
The race will instead be held Aug. 23.
The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 but did not run in 1917, 1918, and from 1941-45 because of World Wars I and II. Tony Hulman bought the neglected speedway after the second war and the Indy 500 returned Memorial Day weekend of 1946 and has been scheduled for that weekend every year since.
Although weather disrupted other runnings of the prestigious race, it had never been outright rescheduled until Thursday.
It was an inevitable decision but still had to be difficult for Roger Penske, who completed his purchase of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar in January and has already pumped millions into capital improvements to ready the historic venue for its first 500 under new ownership.
Penske had been eagerly anticipating the March 15th start to the IndyCar season, but was forced to suspend the series 48 hours before the scheduled opener when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Four races were initially scrapped — the street course events in the downtowns of St. Petersburg, Florida and Long Beach, California, will not be rescheduled — and IndyCar said it would resume racing May 9 on the road course 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,” Penske said. “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.”
That race will now be run on July 4, a day before NASCAR races at The Brickyard.