Q: With Jim Michaelian and Long Beach GP looking at the possibility of moving that event to the end of the schedule, how viable is it that IndyCar could move their other postponed/cancelled races and also tag them on to the end of the season?
Don Draffin, Scarborough, Ontario
RM: Not going to happen in COTA with F1 and MotoGP, and doubt if Barber wants to go up against football, but the IMS road race is certainly a possibility for that time slot.
Q: Do you think the canceled races this spring will be rescheduled in the fall? If not, please explain why.
RM: Its easier if you read the column we linked to a couple of answers earlier, Joe. I think Long Beach has a shot and maybe the road race at IMS, but you’ll see why COTA and Barber would be doubtful. And St. Pete has no chance.
Q: Considering St. Petersburg was completely set up with grandstands, bridges, barricades, vendors, security staffing, competitors and some fans that had already traveled to the area, how big of a financial impact will this 11th-hour postponement have on future of this event? I do realize St. Pete has been one of the series’ strongest and more popular events, but it was so close to the advertised starting time, I can’t help but think of the vendors and other partners who where fully committed or invested.
My wife and I arrived Wednesday evening in Tampa and of course by Thursday afternoon the news was spreading of the cancellation. All was not lost: we had a couple days in the sun at the beach, some great seafood and flew back Saturday to 40-degree weather in the Midwest, which was great for my sunburn. Stay healthy and safe.
RM: Co-promoter Kevin Savoree couldn’t put a number on it and neither could Long Beach’s Jim Michaelian (grandstands, fences and barriers were already in place there too), but both said it was substantial. Firestone sponsors St. Pete and I would assume a lot of the folks like you may come back in 2021, so while it’s costly for the promoter, vendors and restaurants, I think it returns next year.
Q: Looking forward to a new IndyCar season, but also with some trepidation as COVID-19 puts the schedule or at least attendance in jeopardy. Here’s an only half tongue-in-cheek plan if we are forced to run races sans spectators for most of the season: assuming the ovals and permanent road courses can do so without any problems (besides the biggest one, no income from the gate!), I doubt there’s a real way to set up and run the four urban street races after St. Pete without fans. So run at an empty Fontana for Long Beach, an empty Michigan and/or Milwaukee for the two Detroit races, and an empty Mosport or Watkins Glens for Toronto.
Hell, if the Olympics are cancelled, even add a race at the empty Cleveland airport, since even though technically a street race no real venue setup is required, and the track is at a more than safe social distance from the rest of the city! COVID-19 or not, this might be a good devil’s bargain: imagine never getting another Mailbag letter asking when we will return to x venue…
Patrick from Brooklyn
RM: IndyCar rented Watkins Glen and Phoenix and both were damn near empty so it might not be that crazy, but unless you paid those tracks a lot of money, why would they do it?
Q: Man, I am just absolutely gutted for what’s happened to IndyCar with the coronavirus scare. A great season was in front of us and now it’s been taken away. The drivers whom I feel the worst for are the part-timers and the teams on limited budgets. What is going to happen to those teams and drivers?
Eric R, London, OH
RM: Well, Sage Karam may get to replace St. Pete with another race for Dreyer & Reinbold, depending on the sponsor, but Elton Julian told RACER recently: “Resource-wise, I don’t know if a small team like ours survives if this lasts six months. We earn money by being on track and this becomes a massive killer if it wipes out our season.” And Mike Shank, who also competes in IndyCar and IMSA like Julian, said so far his partners/sponsors have been very understanding but it’s scary territory for the little guys with all the unknowns.
Q: It may be little, and in the grand scheme of things is not important, but maybe IndyCar can sponsor some iRacing events with the drivers for us fans to watch while we telework or recover from being sick.
RM: Good idea Doug, and IndyCar is exploring that possibility as we speak.
Q: I still have a hard time with the fact that the IndyCar season ends in September. Under normal conditions this is too early, but this is a subject for a later date. Why can’t these cancelled races be rescheduled to October and November? A suggested schedule could be: Oct. 4: Barber. Oct. 18: COTA. Nov. 1: Long Beach. Nov. 15: St. Pete.
RM: Long Beach is the only possibility in your scenario. F1 and MotoGP are at COTA in October and November, while Barber isn’t going to go up against college football and St. Pete won’t be back until 2021.