By: Tanner Watkins
May 19, 2020 | 9:00 AM
While race fans from around the world are lamenting the Indianapolis 500’s absence this May, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, INDYCAR, and NBC Sports have done their best to conjure up excitement and fond memories in these unique times.
The multi-week INDYCAR iRacing Challenge kicked things off back in March, and while the sim racing series ended in a bit of controversy, the product served as viable entertainment to help whet the starved racing appetite for open-wheel racing fans.
With the calendar flipping to May, INDYCAR has been hosting special inside-access days for various teams on the Series’ various social media platforms. At the end of each takeover day, drivers from the teams have been announcing a special “One Drive To Get Back On Track” auction package sponsored by their team.
Various items and packages will be available to bid on during the originally-scheduled Indianapolis 500 weekend – set for May 22 to 24. Fans can learn more about the auction and the items available for bidding by visiting Indycar.com/2020/Back-On-Track.
Since these announcements, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has jumped into the fray with their #500AtHome campaign. Leading into Sunday, fans are being encouraged to virtually enjoy their favorite “500” traditions while taking part in online Carb Day, Legends Day, and race day festivities.
“The Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is a Memorial Day tradition unlike any other, and this May we are ensuring that the spirit of the Indy 500 continues,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said.
“With the help from fantastic community partners and our friends at NBC and INDYCAR, #500atHome will offer race fans the best way to virtually celebrate and participate in what is usually the most exciting time of the year with fun, safe and smart activities.”
All of these events lead into Sunday’s feature presentation of “Indy 500: Back Home Again” on NBC. This enhanced version of the 2019 race will feature a pre-race conversation with last May’s winner Simon Pagenaud as well as 2016 winner and 2019 runner-up Alexander Rossi.
Relive the 2019 Indy 500 at @IMS like you’ve never seen before.— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) May 17, 2020
Practicing safe social distancing, we went back home to Indiana with @SimonPagenaud and @AlexanderRossi. See what we did with the @IndyCar drivers on Sunday May 24 at 2PM ET on @NBC. pic.twitter.com/8rfkYMNSoU
Mike Tirico will lead Pagenaud and Rossi through the race as a host while the drivers offer their insight and perspective on the 2019 classic.
While we all wish to be gathering at the World’s Greatest Race Course this weekend for the 104th Indianapolis 500, the prominent stakeholders in American open-wheel racing have done their part to make May enjoyable and get the supporters excited for August.
When the checkered flag drops on Sunday, we will be more than ready to say, “Is it August yet?”