NASCAR and IndyCar reversed course Friday and pulled the plug on racing this weekend, with IndyCar also suspending its season through the end of April due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASCAR called off Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and next weekend’s events at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Both events were already scheduled to be run without spectators.
IndyCar was scheduled to open its season Sunday on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg without fans. Formula One also cancelled its season opening race in Australia, leaving the first full weekend of global motorsports without a major event.
Mark Miles, president and CEO of IndyCar parent company Penske Enterprises, said the about-face came as both IndyCar and NASCAR saw more and more events and attractions closing. He cited the cancellation mid-tournament of The Players Championship and the closure of theme parks as indicators public gatherings should not proceed.
“There’s a public health risk any time people are getting together,” Miles said. “Really, there isn’t a sporting event left that feels comfortable running even without fans. … We just felt like it was the right thing to do to not allow the opportunity for the racers to go racing here.”
It takes six to eight weeks to build a street course, which shuts down large portions of the host city. It is unlikely that St. Petersburg can host the event later this year because of the permits required. Miles also said the Grand Prix of Long Beach, scheduled for April 19, was officially cancelled for 2020.
It was unknown what will happen to races in Birmingham, Alabama, and at Circuit of the Americas in Texas, two of the four April races cancelled Friday by IndyCar.
“From our perspective, our hope, our ambition, our plan is to restart in May and to get