By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
As the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, which resulted in the first four races (St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park, Long Beach and Circuit of the Americas) being postponed, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles held a teleconference Friday regarding what the sport will do going forward.
“Obviously this is an incredibly fluid situation. The entire world is dealing with it. It changes by the hour,” Miles said to start off the call. “The President of the United States is going to make another statement later today. We certainly don’t know what’s coming. It just underscores I think the gravity of the situation.
“We are so excited about this season. We remain that. We’re going to race as much as we can race. It was clear to us from overnight and this morning that the right thing to do right now was to suspend our competition, really all on-track activity through April.”
Miles said that he and Roger Penske’s main focus is on “The Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the GMR Grand Prix and 104th Indianapolis 500 now being the first two races of the season.
“We’ll do everything possible to have the Indianapolis 500 mile race and the Grand Prix before it in May,” Miles said. “If somehow that ends up not being feasible, we’ll be looking at all the other possibilities.
“What we can do is monitor the situation endlessly and to be in a great communicator with our promoters and all our officials and to focus on May. From our perspective, our hope, our ambition, our plan is to restart in May and to get in as much of a season as we can.”
Miles emphasized they’ll do what it takes to assure INDYCAR will be back in action in May and will remain in touch with the track promoters to see if any rescheduling can occur.
One race that won’t be apart of the 2020 calendar anymore is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach as Miles said they’re unable of setting up a makeup date. Therefore, the second most important race won’t happen until April 16-18, 2021.
“Long Beach could not stage an event because of the California local governmental regulations,” Miles said. “We’re in close regular multiple-times-a-day communication with all of our other races, particularly before May. They were finding it increasingly unlikely that they were going to be able to stage races.”
INDYCAR took precautionary actions when they opened the gate to the participants and press at St. Petersburg Friday where they answered questions about their recent health and travels.
Miles said they were prepared with medical personnel to get the help needed, but at this moment in time, good information and self-awareness is key during this health crisis.
“At this point I think most of society already has this, but we’re making sure they’re getting good information about the risks and good information about how to protect themselves and their employees.
“We’re not in a position to have to tell them what they’ve got to do. They’re smart people and they’ll figure it out in their own situations.”
Both Miles and Penske were also in discussions with the INDYCAR paddock 30 minutes before the teleconference. While they understand there won’t be racing anytime soon, there weren’t much concerns as far as the delayed start of the season impacting their jobs.
“Obviously they want to race and we want to race. We really hate that we can’t give our fans what they want right now,” Miles said. “But there’s a very strong sense of cohesion inside the INDYCAR paddock we’re doing the right things. We’re doing what we have to do right now.
“I think we’re concerned about our whole ecosystem. Everybody is taking stock in the situation. Everybody will sort and grind through it. I didn’t hear anybody thinking they weren’t going to be in business.
“We will be in very regular touch with them. I think if there’s anything about INDYCAR teams, it’s they’ve shown their resilience. They know how to manage. They care about their people. Right now I think even more than thinking about their businesses, they’re thinking about their employees, keeping them safe, keeping them employed.”
Miles said they’ll continue to provide updates when it becomes available and will evaluate the current situation by the hour.
“We’re all going to go home and keep doing what we do. We’re going to be absolutely ready,” Miles said. “That’s with the normal schedule. We will obviously evaluate everything every day by the hour. We’ll make changes we have to make. But our mindset and our efforts are completely dedicated to being ready to put on a great show throughout May.”