No fans, no Indy 500? IndyCar drivers react to no crowd for biggest race

No fans no Indy 500
Chris Jones/IndyCar
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Graham Rahal says he’s heard the refrain of “no fans, no Indy 500,” and he can relate to it because “I was one of those guys.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, though, believes the long-term viability of the NTT IndyCar Series should outweigh the longstanding traditions of a race that will hold its 104th running Aug. 23 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway without a crowd for the first time in Indy 500 history.

“It is critical to the life of our series, to the life of our organizations, to the jobs that this series and racing provides to thousands of individuals,” Rahal said Tuesday during a two-part Twitter video reacting to the news that the Brickyard will be closed to the general public this month. “To the cottage industries in Indianapolis that rely on IndyCar racing, and without IndyCar racing and all sorts of those things, those cottage industries might disappear.

DAILY SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy

INDYCAR ON NBCViewing schedule for the rest of the season

“This race is important. This race is the biggest thing each and every year. Without this, I really don’t know if the series goes on in the same manner. I don’t know if a lot of the teams survive without the Indy 500 as we go into the winter. And I know there’s a lot of you, I’ve seen it on Twitter, who don’t care. Who’d rather see us out of business than see us have this race without fans. But it is critical that we go forward. I hope that you guys can understand that, support that.”

Rahal said he had expected that the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would happen in front of at least a limited crowd of 25 percent capacity.

“Clearly at this time, it’s critical that we take care of each other,” he said. “That we do what’s in the best interests of human health. At the same time, it is critical that we as a sport have the Indy 500. I know that is hard for some people to contemplate.”

In an A.J. Foyt Racing release, team owner and four-time Indy 500 winner Foyt said, “I’ve seen a lot of changes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but I never thought I’d see the race run without fans. I know it had to be a really tough decision to make, and it was the right one for this time. I’ll miss seeing the fans because I think I have a lot of fans in Indy and they were the reason I kept coming back here when I got hurt. It’s a real shame that they can’t be here this year but I think they will be here in spirit.”

Said 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who is running a partial schedule this season that includes Indy: “I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. I think deep inside we always race the majority of the times because of the fans. They’re the ones — especially for me at Indy —they’re the most important thing. Obviously, we had to make a decision and I think it’s the safest one, but it’s sad. It’s just so sad. The whole world is sad right now. But we’ll get through it.

“Hopefully, everyone will be watching the Indy 500 on TV and cheering as loudly as they would at the race track. But that makes me wonder: I don’t think this should be my last Indy 500.”

Several other IndyCar drivers also reacted to the news on social media, expressing regrets about racing before empty grandstands while also supporting the move by track owner Roger Penske.

Here’s a roundup of their thoughts, starting with the top two finishers in last year’s Indy 500:

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans