INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The move to postpone the Indianapolis 500 is something Indianapolis Motor Speedway has never done before.
If the Indianapolis 500 has happened, it has always occurred in the month of May. The month and the race are synonymous in Indiana. But this year for the very first time, the race will happen in another month and, according to Indianapolis Motor Speedway historian Donald Davidson, it’s something that will go down in history.
“It just will be a little surreal I think to have Memorial Day weekend and no race, but more than that, when we come back and have the race at a totally different time of year, that will be very strange,” Davidson said.
Davidson first attended the Indy 500 56 years ago and has since been a living Encyclopedia on the race.
“This is totally unprecedented. Since the inaugural running in 1911, it was not held in 1917 and 1918 because of World War I, and then 1942 through ’45 because of World War II and that’s it. And there was even, with weather delays which has happened a few times, it’s never gone later than May the 31st,” Davidson said.
The 2020 race is not canceled as it was during wars, but it adds a variation to the history books.
“I’m thinking about writers and how they will word something to make it accurate, because it would be that other than for the war, every Memorial Day weekend since 1911, there’s an Indianapolis 500. Next year, you won’t be able to say that, you’ll have to figure another way to reword it,” Donaldson said.
This is not the first time a pandemic has affected IndyCar though. During the 1918 flu pandemic, driver and Indy native Johnny Aitken was a victim of the virus. That was during one of the six years the race didn’t run due to wartime, but he was honored during the running of the Indy 500 in 1919.