That’s how long it took for Road America and IndyCar to go from the seed of an idea through the discussions to the announcement Thursday that the track would host a second race and move from June to July on the schedule.
Just five days.
“This possibility didn’t come up until we were sitting across the table from each other last Saturday,” Road America President and general manager Mike Kertscher said, referring to a lunch meeting in Indianapolis with series owner Roger Penske and other IndyCar officials.
“It moved very fast. I got back here Saturday afternoon and went right to the office. A couple of members of the team came in and it was like, we’ve got to figure this out. Can Road America do this? What adjustments will we need to make?
“I had to, of course, engage our board and make sure everybody was on board with what I thought was a good idea at the time. There’s a lot of upside here. And … bam! The deal’s done and announced today.”
Road America, the 4-mile road course in Elkhart Lake in rural Sheboygan County, had been set for June 19-21 on the IndyCar calendar but has moved to the weekend of July 9-11. The event scheduled for Toronto in that time frame was called off last week when the city extended its ban on large-scale events through July.
Because of cancellations and postponements related to the coronavirus pandemic, the IndyCar season has been scheduled to start June 6 at Texas with a one-day event with no spectators and rigorous protocols regarding health screenings, distancing and personal protective equipment.
Road America had become the second race. Kertscher and IndyCar officials had been scheduled to meet to discuss what needed to be done to keep participants and fans as safe as possible.
“We’ve kind of taken the approach here through all of this that, how do we recover from this in the eyes of the race fan and the stakeholders of Road America?” Kertscher said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s about getting through this year, but it’s more than that. How can we help others in the time of need? It’s always the right time to do the right thing.”
Road America had already made one major schedule change, closing the May 29-31 MotoAmerica weekend to fans but adding a second, open weekend June 26-28.
“Case in point, we were thinking about the same thing with IndyCar: How do we help you guys, but also how do we give the fans something extra, something that they haven’t seen before in Elkhart Lake?” Kertscher said.
“Quite honestly, that’s how it came up. A date opened up, and why don’t we shift our event three weeks, give the teams a little bit more time to prepare, give us a little more time to prepare, (as well as) our fans?”
Because Road America’s calendar is packed with private and club events not open to spectators, each change resulted in several other adjustments. One positive: The SVRA spring vintage weekend that initially was scrapped due to safer-at-真人百家家乐官网网站home guidelines was added back into the schedule on the former IndyCar weekend. Further changes are possible.
Alexander Rossi went around pole-sitter Colton Herta on the first lap and ran away from the field for a dominating second victory of the season. Milwaukee
Kertscher said the reaction he has seen since news of the IndyCar doubleheader leaked Wednesday has been largely positive. The track’s advertisers will benefit from a second national broadcast (although network details have not been announced).
Many scheduling and logistics details need to be worked out. In general, Kertscher said, the races will serve as separate events. There are likely to be longer gaps in on-track action to allow for distancing for participants. Campsites will be spread out.
Tickets for the original weekend will be honored for the new dates. Road America does not intend to change the weekend admission, Kertscher said, even though there are two IndyCar races rather than one.
What happens at the coming events at the track – most notably two MotoAmerica weekends and the SCCA June Sprints – and in the IndyCar races at Texas and on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will help determine policies and procedures for Road America’s doubleheader, Kertscher said.
One of the biggest advantages the track has over other venues in this era of social distancing is its size. The grounds cover 640 acres.
Kertscher is hopeful Wisconsin will make progress in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 and life will become more normal over the next seven weeks but also concedes the coronavirus situation could get worse.
Either way, attendance is likely to be affected significantly by concerns. IndyCar has drawn in neighborhood of 50,000 fans since the return of high-level open-wheel racing in 2016.
“We don’t know what to expect, because there are absolutely going to be those folks that feel more comfortable being at 真人百家家乐官网网站home and watching on TV, and we respect the heck out of that, and we want to prove to them that we can do this safely and when they’re ready they’ll come back,” Kertscher said.
“You’ve got to let it up to the people to decide, and we’ve got to do what we can to do our part to make sure the folks that are here are comfortable and safe.”
Road America’s event schedule
May 29-31: MotoAmerica (no spectators)
June 12-14: SCCA June Sprints
June 19-21: Rescheduled SVRA spring vintage
June 26-28: MotoAmerica
July 9-11: IndyCar
July 23-26: WeatherTech International Challenge
July 30-Aug. 2: IMSA
Aug. 6-8: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Aug. 28-30: World Challenge
Sept. 18-20: Fall vintage
Oct. 9-11: SCCA Runoffs