When is the Indy 500 in 2020? New date, start time & other details for the race in IndianapolisSporting News — (Tadd Haislop)
The coronavirus pandemic cares not for the Month of May in auto racing. The same public health issues that shut down live sports globally in March have caused a massive shake-up in IndyCar's plans for 2020, including the 104th annual Indy 500's place on the schedule.
The Indianapolis 500 is one of the few races in America that attracts casual viewers on a global scale, so IndyCar and IMS are doing everything they can to keep the 2020 race on the schedule. So far so good, because the 2020 Indy 500 has not been canceled — just rescheduled.
The 2020 IndyCar season was suspended in March before it even had a chance to start, so the newly scheduled June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway technically will be the first race of the season. As currently scheduled, the Indy 500 will be the eighth race of the season.
Below is what you need to know about the status of the 2020 Indy 500, plus NBC's plan to fill the broadcast time it had devoted to the race on Sunday, May 24.
When is the Indy 500 in 2020?
- Date: Sunday, Aug. 23
- Start time: 1 p.m. ET
IndyCar lists a 1 p.m. ET start time for the rescheduled Indy 500 on Aug. 23, but the complete broadcast schedule remains TBD.
The statement from IndyCar and IMS in March noted that "on-track action will begin with practice sessions Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 12-13, followed by Fast Friday on Aug. 14 and Indianapolis 500 Qualifications on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16. Each day of qualifications will be televised on NBC.
"The following week’s schedule will begin with hot pit-stop practice sessions on Thursday, Aug. 20. ... Final Indianapolis 500 practice will take place Friday, Aug. 21 as part of Miller Lite Carb Day."
In other words, the typical schedule for the Indy 500 remains intact — just a few months later.
“It could be scorching hot. And will we have fans there,” Calabro said. “I think the uncertainty of it all is a factor, but the speedway will go out of their way to make it as normal as possible. Roger Penske is all about that. And he’ll leave no stone unturned to make it as special as May as possible.”
The updated IndyCar schedule for 2020, which is set to resume with a night race at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, can be found here.
Why was the Indy 500 postponed?
The 2020 Indy 500 has been rescheduled for Sunday, Aug. 23 due to the public health and safety dangers associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
With the exception of six cancellations during World War I and II, this will mark the first time in the Indy 500's 103-year history that it will not be run the Sunday before Memorial Day.
"This is just weird as weird can be for me," Dave Calabro, for 35 years the track announcer at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, told Sporting News. “There’s a rhythm to the whole spring you get into, and to eliminate the biggest part of it is, just for everybody, it’s just weird."
Added Roger Penske, whose company bought IMS this year, when the Indy 500 was postponed in late March: “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. 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.”
As Penske noted, if all goes as planned regarding the development of health and safety technology/protocols as they relate to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indy 500 in 2020 could take place with fans in the stands.
Indy 500 broadcast on Sunday, May 24
Technically an Indy 500 broadcast will be shown by NBC on its originally scheduled date for 2020 — it just won't be the 2020 Indy 500.
Starting at 2 p.m. ET, NBC will air an enhanced encore presentation of last year's Indy 500, won by Simon Pagenaud. "Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again" will be hosted by NBC's Mike Tirico and will feature new commentary from Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi during the replay of the race.
"The goal of our enhanced broadcast is to honor the traditions of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and re-live elements of last year’s race through Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi as they battled back-and-forth to the checkered flag," said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production at NBC and NBCSN.
For those who wish to watch even more Indy 500 reruns Sunday in the absence of the 2020 race, ESPN2 will re-air three ABC broadcasts of recent Indy 500s beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
ESPN2 will show the 2006 Indy 500 at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the 2011 Indy 500 starting at 5 p.m. ET. The 2014 Indy 500 will air on the network starting at 7 p.m. ET.