CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR has suspended its season until May as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to postpone gatherings for the next eight weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision came after at least two Monday conference calls between the sanctioning body and its team owners. It affects seven total races — Atlanta and Homestead already had been postponed.
“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority,” NASCAR said.
The series plans to return to the track at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on May 9.
“We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts,” NASCAR said. “What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”
NASCAR first said it would run last weekend and this coming weekend without spectators, but it reversed course Friday and postponed the races at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We understand the decision not to race is met with some feelings of disappointment,” NASCAR said. “After all, it’s the thrill of the race that attracts us to NASCAR and makes us fans. … What is important now is bigger than the world of sports, and we must focus on everyone’s safety and well-being.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 17, 2020
NASCAR had not addressed anything beyond Homestead until Monday’s announcement.
IndyCar and Formula One both canceled last weekend’s season-opening races. IndyCar has suspended the season through the end of April, and F1 said upcoming races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China have been postponed.
For most people, the new coronavirus is believed to cause mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus within a few weeks.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway early Monday issued a statement acknowledging the CDC guideline against gatherings and is planning for all contingencies, but it also is prepared to run its events in May. The Indy 500, scheduled for May 24, typically draws more than 300,000 fans.
The speedway — and now the season — are scheduled to open the first week of May. Roger Penske, the new owner of IndyCar and the speedway, hopes to open the speedway a few days before the May 9 race on the road course to build in test days. Penske wants teams as prepared as possible for the Indianapolis 500.
“Our priority is to do our part in protecting the public health while still conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500,” the speedway said. “This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials. We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”
IndyCar’s 17-race schedule has been hit hard by the coronavirus because street races in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Long Beach, California, have been canceled outright. Two road course events in Birmingham, Alabama, and Austin, Texas, could be rescheduled.
Nearly every racing series in the world has ceased competition since the coronavirus became a global pandemic. IMSA moved the 12 Hours of Sebring scheduled for this weekend until November’s season finale.
Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans said Monday a decision will be made in mid-April about its June race.
Supercross ran its first 10 races, but the 2020 season has been postponed until further notice. The series has canceled five races — at Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Denver and Foxboro. No makeup dates were announced for the April 25 event at Las Vegas and the May 2 race at Salt Lake City.
NHRA postponed the 51st annual Gatornationals last weekend. The next scheduled event was April 3-5 at Las Vegas, but the sanctioning body on Monday suspended the season 30 days. NHRA said it intends to resume events April 17-19 in Houston.
“We made this decision with heavy hearts as we see the effects this pandemic is having on the world,” NHRA said in a statement. “We are all in this complicated uncertain and rapidly changing situation together, and we encourage everyone to look out for each other.”
World of Outlaws postponed all races through April 9 so far, while Formula E has suspended the next two months of its 2020-21 season.