Silent Stands

Editor’s Note: Sad to hear about the death of Bob Lazier, 1981 Indianapolis 500 starter and the father of 1996 500 winner Buddy Lazier and Indycar driver Jacques Lazier, from complications of COVID-19. Condolences to the Lazier family.

It’s great to be back in Indiana. The reality of the COVID-19 situation hit me the last two days as we drove on mostly empty roadways and breezed through normally traffic congested cities. The Downtown areas of Louisville and Indianapolis were stark in their emptiness.

As May begins next week we still don’t know when the Indycar season will actually start. I would not be surprised to see the first scheduled race, June 6 at Texas, postponed or cancelled. I’m not sure the next event at road America or the Following weekend at Richmond will happen either.

It’s all a matter of social distancing. Can a track afford the risk of having fans attend and potentially fall ill? I’m not sure I want to go to a race until after I have had a vaccination. NASCAR and Formula1 have discussed racing with no fans present. Conducting a race takes a lot of people. Track staff, series officials, media, and team personnel needed can comprise a small town alone. Is it worth the risk of exposure for those people just to to fulfill a schedule?

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, is discussing the possibility of a NASCAR/Indycar doubleheader without fans. I like the double header idea but there would be twice the amount of people at the track to run races from two different series.

Roger Penske has said he would not run the Indianapolis 500 without fans. I’m glad to hear that. I don’t think the 500 should be run just for the sake of running it. I would rather wait until it is safe for fans to be present. I’m not sure this August is the time for 300,000 people to gather in one spot. . The race has been cancelled in the past due to major world events. This may be the third time in its history that we need to wait another year. I would hate for that to happen, but it may be in everyone’s best interests.

The Indycar iRacing Challenge series has given us a taste of what watching a race without fans in the stands might be like. It is a bit eerie, but I enjoy the only type of racing available right now. Will there be more events after this six week challenge ends May 2?

We are all anxious to get back to the track. We must be patient and think safety and health first. If this entire year is wiped out, it will be tough to take, but I’d rather go to to a track with a feeling of comfort and safety.

Everyone stay safe and wash your hands.

I’ll be back later to begin coverage of his week’s iRacing event from COTA.