With six of 14 races completed in the NTT IndyCar Series season, teams have been told to anticipate more changes to the calendar as an array of issues and challenges continue to surface in response to COVID-19.
IndyCar is said to be determined to meet its desired minimum of 14 races in 2020, and to do so, a number of adjustments are being explored to replace at-risk events that have surfaced recent weeks. The primary schedule adjustments are likely to come with the deletion of IndyCar’s West Coast swing in September.
With back-to-back rounds at Portland International Raceway (Sept. 13) and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for a doubleheader (Sept. 19-20) on the schedule, an ongoing increase in coronavirus cases, and a few new state- or circuit-based roadblocks to consider in Oregon and California, a desire to limit travel outside the greater Midwest has been a frequent topic mentioned within the paddock. It if were to happen, three new races would need to be added to the calendar.
Although nothing final has been relayed to its teams, most are preparing to finish the year without visits to Portland and Monterey.
RACER has confirmed fallback plans are being established to add second races to the next IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio (August 9), World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 30), and the Harvest Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (October 3), which would turn the three events into doubleheaders if Portland and Monterey are pushed back to 2021.
In Oregon, an outdoor gathering limit of 250 people remains in place, which would pose fundamental problems for IndyCar, which travels with more than 600 series, team, and support members. In California, the spike in coronavirus cases has been compounded by Laguna Seca’s struggles to secure the hundreds of volunteers needed to staff and facilitate major events. The track’s new management team has commenced a new effort to create a volunteer organization of its own and while progress continues to be made, it’s unclear whether the volunteers would be in position and ready to host an IndyCar event in less than 60 days.
The Oregon-California trip also serves as the only IndyCar races involving long-distance air travel, which has proven to be a concern for some other domestic racing series.