By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Motorsports venues will be a ghost town around the world as Formula One, INDYCAR and NASCAR will not hold any form of racing this weekend and beyond due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
FORMULA ONE WON’T RETURN UNTIL END OF MAY
A day after Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled, the FIA announced that both the Bahrain Grand Prix (March 20-22) and inaugural Vietnamese Grand Prix (April 3-5) will be postponed.
Although the Dutch Grand Prix (May 1-3) would be the new first official race, the 70th season of motor racing’s pinnacle series is unlikely to finally start until the end of May, but it will be regularly monitored to see if anymore action will be required by all parties.
FIA President Jean Todt said protecting people is the most important thing under extremely difficult times.
Together with Formula 1, the Bahrain Motor Federation, the Vietnamese Motorsports Association, and the local promoters, postponing both the Bahrain and Vietnam Grands Prix, as with the Australian Grand Prix, was the only possible decision given all of the information currently available to us.
“We continue to rely on the input and advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments and will work with them throughout this unpredictable period to safeguard the fans, competitors and all of the motor sport community.”
FIRST FOUR INDYCAR RACES CANCELLED, MONTH OF MAY TO KICK OFF SEASON
The Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway may now be Opening Month for the NTT IndyCar Series as the sport announced Friday the first four races are axed.
Those are Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was supposed to run without any spectators, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (April 5), Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 19) and AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge (April 26).
Long Beach’s fate was already announced Thursday by the City of Long Beach, which barred all large-group events through April 30.
INDYCAR issued the following statement as to why they’ve cancelled the first four 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.
“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 new season opener will commence May 9 with the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, where two-time Virgin Australia Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin will make his much anticipated INDYCAR debut for Team Penske.
Following the road course race, the 104th Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge is the second race of the season set to take place May 24.
ATLANTA AND HOMESTEAD POSTPONED
Meanwhile, NASCAR have only postponed both race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, a day after announcing their intentions of racing behind closed doors.
“NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend,” an issue NASCAR released. “We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”
It’s the first-time since 2001 that a NASCAR race weekend was postponed outside of weather when New Hampshire Motor Speedway was moved from the 27th Cup Series race to the season finale after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
At the moment, Texas Motor Speedway is slated to be the next race for all three national touring series (Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series) March 27-29. The track issued a statement Thursday regarding their status:
— Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) March 12, 2020
Motorsports Tribune will continue to provide updates regarding events impacted by COVID-19 as it becomes officially available.