Q: I’m devastated by the destruction of the motorsports calendar. I attended my first 500 in 1966 and have been to most races since. It seems likely now that the Indy 500 will be cancelled or postponed, unless… what do you think of running the race on its original date with no fans, and moving the broadcast to pay-per-view? Hell, I’d pay $50 to watch it even though I already have three $120 tickets paid. BTW, I have no problem with the Speedway keeping my money until next year, or even applying it toward PPV. Roger might even make more net income doing it this way if planned and promoted well in advance. We are all so desperate for live sports programming it might set all kinds of records. So let’s at least run the race. Maybe you could plant this seed with Mr. P.
Gary Thompson, Indianapolis
RM: It’s interesting you suggested that, because a good friend of mine who tried to tip me off about Penske buying IMS called a couple weeks ago and said Indy would be run on May 24th with no spectators but on PPV. If you have a ticket, you could watch for free and your ticket money would go towards 2021 with a discount included. But NBC invested a lot of money to televise Indianapolis and IndyCar, plus it’s free for everyone with network TV, so that PPV theory isn’t going to fly.
Q: When will IndyCar face the elephant in the room – the Indy 500? The current virus situation makes it clear that the 500 cannot/will not be allowed to happen. Trying to stage the event without fans in attendance is a non-starter, as Marshall Pruett has stated, and even without fans in the seats the number of crew members would also prevent the race from being run on its traditional date. Now is the time to reschedule, if not cancel the event. Some may say that not running the 500 just can’t happen, but let’s be real here. The race can be cancelled and life will go on. Trust me. What are you and the others in the media going to do to pass time when the 500 is not run at the end of May?
RM: First off, Indy may get postponed, but I don’t see it being canceled. Now that the Summer Olympics are off, that four-week period in July-August could be a perfect fit for Indianapolis. I’m writing stories, doing videos and editing the Mailbag so I’m plenty busy, just like all our other writers.
Q: Apologies if I’m beating a dead horse here, but I have some ideas for getting the most out of the Month of May. I won’t pretend I’m a pandemic expert, but anecdotally it doesn’t seem realistic to “[protect] the public health while still conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge as scheduled on May 24.” It would be a disservice to the fans, the city, and all involved to run the race half-assed, behind closed doors, or subject attendees to a virus that’s likely not going anywhere anytime soon.
So here’s my pitch: run the GP and the Indy 500 as the last two races of whatever season we can muster. Combine the GP weekend with the GT World Challenge event on the weekend of October 3-4 with the IndyCar races on Saturday and the 8 Hours on Sunday. Indy 500 practice will be Monday through Friday, qualifying on Saturday the 10th, with the 500 being run on Sunday the 11th. This way we give the virus ample time to die down, allow both the series and fans to plan accordingly, and give the season the ending it deserves.
RM: Like we’ve said recently, I can’t see R.P. staging Indy without fans, so if its gets postponed then what’s the best time? Not September when every major sporting event has already been rescheduled, but maybe that four-week period when NBC was going to show the Summer Olympics. That might be perfect for the Indy 500 and road race, so stay tuned.
Q: While people are bemoaning the postponement or cancellation of the first four IndyCar races of the year and speculating about the fate of the fifth one, the more obvious concern is the sixth race – the Indianapolis 500. Like most fans I have been highly disappointed by the loss of the early-season events, but as I watched everything else going on in the world, I came to accept it.
And now, as experts and pundits look forward with considerable pessimism, I find that I am already accepting of the prospect of the Indy 500 being scuttled this year. There is precedent for such a thing. As you of course know, the race was suspended during World War I, and again during World War II. While I do not intend to compare the challenge of fighting the coronavirus to the horrors of warfare, the common denominator is “the greater good.”
The Indy 500 is my Christmas morning. My year revolves around the race. My family knows that I will be available for no other activity – not a wedding, not a christening, not a funeral – on race day. But I will forego the 500 this year if it is in the best interests of everyone’s health to do so. And I’d rather see the 500 set aside than run in a compromised fashion. Mr. Penske and the others in charge of IMS and the NTT IndyCar Series need to know that I, and, hopefully, all other true fans of the sport, will support a decision made for the greater good. Let’s continue to hope that a cancellation is not necessary, but let’s be accepting of it if it is.
Bob in NJ
RM: Why would you think it’s going to be canceled? R.P. knows how important Indy is to the series, the teams, the sponsors, the fans and Indy’s economy and he’s going to make it happen – be it May 24th or later in the summer.
Q: There is a good possibility that the Indianapolis 500 could be the first big public event after all this is over. People will be craving anything sports-related at that point. Could be a massive television rating and give the 500 the bump it needs. Exciting to think about the possibilities.
RM: Yes it could, and I think The Captain is holding on as long as he can to May in case something changes for the good in the next few weeks.
Q: With the guidelines many states and federal governments are implementing, is the possibility of the Indy 500 being postponed greater that 50 percent? With the travel ban from Europe in place, it seems unlikely that Fernando Alonso will be able to participate in the 500 if held on Memorial Day weekend.
Frank V., Phoenix, AZ
RM: I imagine, considering they just canceled the Summer Olympics, but it may all depend on the next few weeks. And I think Fred could find his way here if the race goes off in May. Or July.