Indianapolis 500 moved to August 23 due to coronavirus

Washington (AFP) –


The 104th Indianapolis 500 was moved from May 24 to August 23 on Thursday by IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

It will mark the first time the US oval classic on the famed 2 1/2-mile (4km) oval will be staged outside of May in more than a century of races, with Frenchman Simon Pagenaud looking to defend his title.

Organizers also moved the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which had been scheduled for May 9 on the road course at the Speedway, to July 4 -- the American Independence Day holiday -- as part of a revamped IndyCar season schedule.

"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," series and speedway owner Roger Penske said.

"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.

"I'm confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world's greatest race."

The Indy 500 will begin with practice sessions August 12-14 and qualifying on August 15-16 with a final practice session on August 21.

"This August, we'll also have a unique and powerful opportunity to honor the contributions and heroism of the doctors, nurses, first responders and National Guard members serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19," Penske Entertainment president Mark Miles said.

"We're grateful for the patience of our fans as we've navigated this situation."