IndyCar advises teams on St. Pete interaction because of COVID-19


In a memo sent Wednesday to its teams, IndyCar has implemented some changes for fan interaction this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Drivers are being advised “to pre-sign items items whenever possible, including hero cards” and also bring their own Sharpies. Restricting fan autographs to hero cards is recommended, and drivers are expected to sign a minimum of 100 hero cards that will be distributed by IndyCar.

A Friday autograph session with drivers will replaced with a 15-minute social Q&A taped with drivers (whose attendance is mandatory) that will be shown on videoboards around the course during breaks on track. Drivers will answer questions from fans via social media.

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IndyCar drivers still are expected to participate in a fan Q&A Thursday night in a downtown St. Petersburg park. A prerace drivers meeting Sunday at noon will remain open to the public, though drivers will be kept at a distance of more than 6 feet from fans and other attendees.

IndyCar teams also were advised to follow advice and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

IndyCar announced last week that it expected no schedule disruptions because of the coronavirus outbreak. That stance was reaffirmed in a Wednesday morning news conference with St. Petersburg officials.

In a Wednesday interview with RACER, IndyCar owner Roger Penske said, “We’re monitoring every single move, and we met with (the mayor of St. Petersburg) again today, and continue to coordinate with health department as well. We’ll take this one day at a time, and do everything to make a prudent decision.

“We had 25,000 people at Amelia Island last weekend with no problems. DisneyWorld is still open, there’s a big golf tournament in Florida this weekend, and there’s no reason to make any change in St. Pete unless we’re instructed by the government and/or health department.”

In a social media post Wednesday, Robert Wickens provided his approach to fan interaction this weekend at St. Petersburg.

NASCAR also announced some procedural changes for this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway because of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,000 people in the United States and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change