MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Rumors of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio becoming a doubleheader this year have been circulating for the past several weeks around IndyCar.
It is expected to become a reality early this week.
SPEED SPORT has talked to several drivers and team members in IndyCar who believe the Grand Prix of Portland in September will be canceled. In order to maintain the 14-race schedule, the Portland round will be shifted to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a doubleheader weekend set for Aug. 8-9.
That will be the third-straight doubleheader on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule. Doubleheaders were held the July 11-12 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and July 17-18 at Iowa Speedway.
IndyCar is expected to make it official in the upcoming week.
“It will be huge,” driver Graham Rahal told SPEED SPORT. “We need to have as many fans as feasible and safe. I hope we are able to get a great crowd at Mid-Ohio, particularly if it is going to be a doubleheader, we would like people to be there and enjoy the weekend. At Mid-Ohio, with the camping and everything else, you can easily socially distance. You can stand more than six feet away from everybody. It’s a safe place for everybody to go and enjoy the weekend, so hopefully we get to have that.”
Because of additional COVID-19 restrictions being implemented in the state of Oregon by Governor Kate Brown, public gatherings will be reduced from 250 people to a maximum of 100. IndyCar’s traveling contingent of team and series personnel surpasses that number, so even without spectators, the event cannot be held under those state guidelines.
Green Savoree Racing Promotions is the promoter of the Portland race and also owns the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The promotions company owned by Kim Green and Kevin Savoree have already had to postpone the Firestone Grand Prix from March to the end of October. The Honda Indy Toronto, originally scheduled for July, was canceled because of travel restrictions set by the Canadian government.
By creating a doubleheader at Mid-Ohio, it will be the seventh and eighth races on the schedule for IndyCar. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will become the ninth race of the season and is scheduled for Aug. 23.
Another race in potential jeopardy is the event scheduled WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. The combination of COVID-19 restrictions, along with management and operational challenges, could knock that race off the schedule.
If that happens, a second date could be added to World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Ill. Also, the Harvest Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway could become a doubleheader on Oct. 2-3.
“There are some things up in the air, which makes it hard to plan, but these are all places we’ve been to,” NTT IndyCar Series points leader and five-time series champion Scott Dixon told SPEED SPORT.
Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden is up for the task of more doubleheaders this season, if that means having a 14-race schedule.
“I love it,” Newgarden told SPEED SPORT. “I’m ready to get to the next event. We are always confident we have the car to beat, the team to beat, every race we show up to. I’m ready to go and happy to meet the challenge.
“Regardless of where we are going, we are ready to meet the challenge.”