Simon Pagenaud won the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
March 27 (UPI) -- The 2020 Indianapolis 500 has been pushed back to Aug. 23 from May 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials from IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the new date for the race Thursday. The Indianapolis 500 never had been rescheduled.
The annual IndyCar race has taken place on Memorial Day weekend every year since 1945. The race was first held in 1911, but was skipped in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I. It also was canceled from 1942 through 1945 because of World War II.
The GMR Grand Prix has also been rescheduled to July 4 from May 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"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," said Roger Penske, the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar series.
"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.
"We will continue to focus on ways we can enhance the customer experience in the months ahead, and I'm confident we will welcome fans with a transformed facility and a global spectacle when we run the world's greatest race."
Practice sessions for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 will be Aug. 12 and 13. Indianapolis 500 qualifications will be Aug. 15 and 16. The qualifications and race will air on NBC after the network took over the broadcast rights from ABC.
The GMR Grand Prix's move to July 4 means it will take place the day before NASCAR's Cup Series' Brickyard 400. The race also will be on the same day as NASCAR Xfinity Series' Lilly Diabetes 250.
The holiday racing lineup at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway marks the first time that the IndyCar Series will compete at the same track on the same weekend as both the Cup Series and Xfinity Series.