2020 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to Continue
By Christopher DeHarde
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The 2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be one of the more memorable NTT IndyCar Series races in recent history for all the wrong reasons.
Nobody will get to see it in person.
With the looming shadows of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak causing massive disruptions to sporting events all throughout the world, INDYCAR and Green Savoree Racing Promotions (the organizers of the race) have decided to continue with their plans to host the first round of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season but with no access allowed to spectators. The race will still be televised on NBCSN on Sunday, March 15th at 2:30 p.m. ET.
“The race here in St. Petersburg will be closed to spectators, and all public events associated with the Grand Prix are canceled as well,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. “We want to encourage everyone to watch the race on NBC Sports Network. Show your support for the city of St. Petersburg for our promoter, for the race car drivers and for IndyCar.
There have been many other changes to the weekend’s operations. Support events will have their track time condensed down and there will be a medical questionnaire given to all competitors. All workers at the race will park at a remote site and will be shuttled to the track.
“This protocol is being put in place to protect the health and welfare of the fans, drivers, teams, workers and officials, as we mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19,” said INDYCAR and Green Savoree Racing Promotions in a joint statement.
The press conference at the St. Petersburg Police Department Headquarters comes hours after the postponement of IMSA’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring from March 18th-21st to November 11th-14th, the FIA WEC cancelling their race next weekend at Sebring International Raceway and NASCAR’s announcement that their next two races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be held without spectators.
Green Savoree Racing Promotions will be addressing fan concerns with tickets and other refunds after the race weekend has concluded. INDYCAR will release a revised schedule soon.
Mayor Kriseman reassured his constituents that the city will persevere through any medical issues that may face the city.
“I want to encourage everyone to continue to be what St. Petersburg is and what makes this city such a special place. Be kind to each other, be compassionate with each other, be patient as we go through this difficult time. We’re going to get through this as a community together. We can do this. St. Petersburg, we’ve done it before. That’s what makes us so great.”