Penske’s goal to have August Indy 500 with same pageantry, audience

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The first Indianapolis 500 with Roger Penske at the helm will be like no other.

For the first time in event history, the race will be run outside the month of May – on Aug. 23 to be exact. But the date change was not one Penske made by choice but rather necessity.

With the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic postponing or outright canceling all current and upcoming events, the ability to safely run the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend began to look more and more unlikely.

Thus on March 26, IndyCar and the track announced the race would be postponed until August.

While the race will be run on a new date, Penske still wants to have the same feeling as it would in May.

“It’s my goal to try to have that race with the same pageantry, the same worldwide audience and provide our fans with the best race ever,” Penske told Mike Tirico on NBCSN’s Lunch Talk Live Thursday. “It’s going to change. We’re going to know other sports will take place earlier. But we want to have the race as it was last year. The Indy 500 in August.”

While the pandemic has left his newly acquired racing series and track at a standstill, Penske said he has no regrets about his purchase of IndyCar and IMS.

“You think about Jan. 6, we took over the stewardship of the speedway and IndyCar, I had no idea what I was going to face and what the team would face as we go forward,” Penske said. “When I step back, I made the right decision no matter what happens.

“The Governor of Indiana, the mayor of Indianapolis, the town of Speedway reached out to me from the very beginning. We’re operating as a team. We’re going to get through this.”

The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 is be run on Aug. 23 and air live on NBC.