Another racing shoe – or rather a few – dropped on Wednesday, March 18. First came the announcement from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) that the venerable and 88th Le Mans 24-hour race would be rescheduled for September of 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The new date is 19-20 September at the Circuit de la Sarthe outside the city of Le Mans. This, of course, will revise the World Endurance Championship (WEC), the European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series calendars.
“Postponing the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2020, originally scheduled for 13-14 June, is the appropriate solution in face of the exceptional health circumstances that we are all going through today,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO. “It goes without saying that we will make every effort to ensure the safety and quality of our events.
“First of all,” Fillon emphasized, “I want to ask everyone to take no risk for themselves, their families and others. Today is a question of stopping the spread of this virus. I would also like to spare warm thoughts for all the medical personnel working to protect our health. We are more than ever working as one team together with our competitors, partners, fans, media, medical services, organization teams and marshals.”
Shortly thereafter, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, through its president and CEO Jim Michaelian, confirmed the cancellation of the 2020 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Grand Prix Association had been working furiously as they tried to find a substitute date for the 2020 race but were unable to do so. This contest, the longest-running street race in the United States, has injected more than $30 million to the Long Beach economy.
“Over the past few days,” Michaelian said, “we have actively pursued the possibility of rescheduling the Acura Grand Prix to a later date this year, with the City of Long Beach, the Convention Center, the NTT IndyCar Series, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and our other race sanctioning bodies.
“We are very disappointed that we were unable to put something together for all our loyal fans and valued clients, but trying to reassemble all the elements that have made the Long Beach event such a success does not appear feasible for 2020. As a result, our attention will now be focused on planning the 46th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-18, 2021.”
Fans currently holding tickets have two options with this race: they may either receive a credit for tickets purchased, which will apply to the same level of admission to the 2021 event. This credit would include a price protection plan that allows ticket holders to avoid a price increase for next year’s race and guarantees they can purchase the same level of ticket for the 2022 event at the 2020 price. The second option gives ticket holders a full refund – less the
processing fee – by April 30, 2020.
The nearly-erected street course at Long Beach is currently in the process of being dismantled. The Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC), which holds an annual get-together on the Thursday before each Long Beach race and had intended to celebrate the career of Rick Mears this year, had earlier stated a postponement to whenever the Long Beach race was rescheduled. It is expected to confirm cancellation of its 2020 event as well.
The Trans Am series presented by Pirelli postponed its scheduled Road Atlanta Grand Prix event on March 17; it was scheduled to be held March 28-29 and a new date has not yet been set, while the series is hoping to hold its scheduled race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1-3. The Trans Am West contest at Thunderhill Raceway, also in California, which was intended to be held April 3-5 has been postponed, with the intend of rescheduling in late summer or fall.