How Will Auto Racing Return During COVID-19?

“Motor racing is like one big family, ultimately, and when you come back to it, that’s really what it feels like.” – Mario Andretti

No matter if you like your racecars with or without roofs, V8s or hybrid turbos, navigating road courses or ovals, we all have one thing in common – weekends haven’t been the same without the unique sights and sounds of motorsport.

After months of careful planning, the world’s premier auto racing organizations are readying for a comeback. Here’s how you can get a much-needed dose of auto racing in the near future.

NASCAR

NASCAR wasn’t only the first motorsport to resume action, but the first major sporting organization in the country to get back underway when it waved the green flag at Darlington on May 17.  To responsibly return to race action, NASCAR is limiting onsite personnel to 16 team members total. The opening series of races held at Darlington and Charlotte were strategically selected to be within driving distance of the teams’ North Carolina bases, which minimizes both travel and time spent in those communities.

Since then, the organization has held a second race at Darlington and the famed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

All NASCAR races will be held without fans until further notice, but the broadcasts aren’t affected, and that familiar V8 rumble emanating from our television speakers has never sounded so sweet.

INDYCAR

After pulling the plug at the last moment on their season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, INDYCAR will resume on June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast in primetime on NBC at 8 p.m., a first for INDYCAR since 2013.

“America has a thirst for live sports, so we’re thrilled to showcase the spectacular racing of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in primetime on the broadcast network,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN.

You will know it’s a live race and not a replay when you spot the debuting Aeroscreen, a cockpit surround that promises to dramatically reduce the risk of INDYCAR driver injury from debris and objects.


Formula 1

While NASCAR was able to take a homegrown sort of approach to resuming racing, the challenge is far greater for the worldwide spectacle (and logistical nightmare) that is Formula 1. The typical Formula 1 season sees five continents, including numerous “flyaway races,” and involves hundreds of team members between the track and home base.

Of all of the series, F1’s return to action is the most tentative. The latest update indicates a likely doubleheader race weekend in Austria to kick off a slightly reduced race season.

“We’re targeting a start to racing in Europe through July, August and beginning of September, with the first race taking place in Austria July 3-5 weekend. September, October and November, would see us race in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, finishing the season in the Gulf in December with Bahrain before the traditional finale in Abu Dhabi, having completed between 15-18 races.” – Chase Carey, F1 CEO

There will be no “Orange Army” invading the Austrian Alps in support of Verstappen this time, though. Like all other motorsports, F1 will be held behind closed doors until the pandemic abates.

IMSA

After kicking off the 2020 season with the 24 Hours of Daytona in January, IMSA’s SportsCar Championships will resume action back at Daytona in July.

The headlining WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will hold an evening race on the Fourth of July. Watch for the live broadcast on NBCSN.

So, no matter your motorsport preferences, hang in there. Diverse and high-quality auto racing is just around the corner.

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