NASCAR/Indycar Doubleheader Returns; Stock cars Will Run Road Course

The news release from IMS this morning presented the changes to the NASCAR event. The doubleheader ran July 4 weekend this year. Indycar will run two road course races and the Indianapolis 500 at IMS in 2021.

The announcement:

NASCAR, INDYCAR Teaming Up for Historic Brickyard Weekend

September 30, 2020 | By Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Cup Series Turning Left and Right at IMS for First Time Aug. 15

The stars of the NASCAR Cup Series will take on a new challenge at The Racing Capital of the World in 2021, competing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15. The revamped Brickyard Weekend also will feature a brand-new NTT INDYCAR SERIES race Saturday, Aug. 14 on the road course, setting the stage for another history-making NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend after this year’s successful collaboration at IMS.

NASCAR Cup Series racing will shift to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course for the very first time after 27 consecutive years on the 2.5-mile oval, writing a new chapter in the incomparable story of speed at the Racing Capital of the World.

The two premier North American motorsports series first raced at the same facility during the same event on Fourth of July weekend this year at IMS, with the Cup Series on the oval Sunday, July 5 and NTT INDYCAR SERIES on the road course Saturday, July 4. The entire weekend of racing action was televised live on NBC.

This year’s historic tripleheader arose due to the postponement of the GMR Grand Prix INDYCAR race in early May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the INDYCAR race on the 2021 August weekend will be the third NTT INDYCAR SERIES event of the season at IMS, following the GMR Grand Prix on the road course and the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on the oval.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

NASCAR fans will get their first chance during the August 2021 event weekend to see the impressive facility improvements at IMS since Roger Penske purchased the track, as no fans were admitted to the NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend in July 2020 due to state and local health directives.

Improvements include the massive IMS Media Wall in the Pagoda Plaza, more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility and an elevated Victory Circle with the winning car lifted onto the Victory Podium.

Ticket information for the historic NASCAR-INDYCAR event on the IMS road course will be available soon at and IMS social channels.

The Weekend the Tree Fell in the Forest

Photo: The start of the 2019 GMR Grand Prix

Suppose history was made and no one was there to  see it? The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has an historic weekend planned, but fans will not be there to see it. I think this hurts more than the Indianapolis 500 not taking place this past May 24. Then, you knew there weren’t any cars running. This weekend, cars are running, but you can only watch them on television.

The time for an Indycar/NASCAR doubleheader is long overdue. I assume that officials of the two series and IMS thought that a limited amount of  fans would be allowed to attend races on the July 4 weekend when the deal was signed. But when a virus controls things, there are no guarantees. Fans are not allowed to witness what should be a significant event in American racing history on Independence Day weekend.

I have seen many firsts at the Speedway (NOT the first 500, thanks for asking)- the first 150 mile an hour lap, the first 200 mile an hour lap, the first Formula 1 race, the first Brickyard 400- and as much as I understand what’s going on, it’s frustrating not to be there this coming weekend. I stopped going to the NASCAR race after 2007. I thought the first few were good, but when the cars changed the racing changed. I  lost interest in it.

I was interested to see the Xfinity Series on the road course. That might be the way to go for the Cup cars in the future. I enjoyed the USAC stock cars when they raced on the road course at Indianapolis Raceway Park (remember the Yankee 300?).  This combined event may not be repeated. When things get back to normal, the GMR Grand Prix will move back to the second weekend in May. I hope the two series, and maybe IMSA as well, can find a mutual weekend that works for all series to run together.

We need to treat this IMS race meet like the  first moon landing. It is too far and too risky to be there in person, so we must be content to watch it on television.

Better times are ahead. Wash your hands and mask up. We will get there sooner.