Movies, Auto Shows, Races, Events Cancelled and Delayed Over COVID-19 Concerns

The list of automotive events that have been cancelled, suspended, or seen massive changes over COVID-19 concerns continues to grow with F1, IndyCar, NASCAR, and the Vancouver Auto Show the latest to announce alterations to their plans in a day filled with big changes to increase social distancing.

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More automotive closures and cancellations are arriving, and one of the biggest might be the world's best toll road. The Nurburgring, the legendary German racetrack that you could pay to drive your own car (any car) on has been shut. That includes all racing, rides, and tourist days until at least April 19. It's the result of an order from local officials to close leisure facilities to restrict contact between persons and slow the spread of the virus.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the largest sporting car event of the year and a classic endurance race, is currently postponed. The date for the race originally set to take place in France in June will now be held September 19 and 20. "Postponing Le Mans 24 Hours from the original dates in June is now the most appropriate way forward in the current exceptional circumstances. First and foremost, I urge everyone to avoid putting themselves, their loved ones and others at risk: the most important thing today is to curtail the spread of this virus," said Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO, the group that organizes the event. The race hasn't been moved since it was delayed in 1968 as a result of strikes, protests, and civil unrest in France.

In an update to Formula 1, the first race of the season has been cancelled, with the Bahrain, Vietnamese, and Chinese GPs all postponed. NASCAR has postponed all of its top series races through to at least the STP 500 May 9, which makes seven postponed races. The NTT Indycar series has cancelled four races and expects its season to start in late May with the Indianapolis 500.

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While just two hours ago event organizers had said the show was on, the Vancouver International Auto show, set to celebrate its 100th anniversary starting March 25, has been postponed. The site hasn't yet been updated with the cancellation, but clicking the buy tickets link directs to a page that indicates the show has been postponed and that ticket holders will receive a link next week on how to get a refund. This comes just days after the New York International Auto Show announced that it had been postponed, rescheduled by organizers to take place in late August and the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled altogether.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the BBC reports that the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which was to take place this weekend and has already had a day of practice sessions, will also be cancelled. No official announcement has been made as of press time, but it is currently very early Friday morning in Australia, slowing communication there. The McLaren Formula 1 team has already withdrawn from the event after one of its team members tested positive for COVID-19. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has expressed criticism of the FIA's previous decisions to proceed with the event. An upcoming race in Bahrain will be run without fans in attendance, a race in China has been postponed, and a decision has not yet been made on a race in early April set for Vietnam.

The NTT Indycar Series, with its next race set for this weekend in St. Petersburg, FL, has seen a restriction of fans who will be permitted to attend. Mayor Rick Kriseman announced earlier today that the event would be closed for general attendance after positive tests from people attending other open-air events in the state. Mayor Kriseman said that the city is still working with the event organizing team and IndyCar to determine if the race will take place at all.

NASCAR has announced that its two next Cup Series events, set for the Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and March 22 near Miami, will also be held to an empty crowd. "At this time, NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. These events will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel to conduct the race." The statement from NASCAR says that they will continue to work with public health officials in regards to the running of the rest of the season.

The next instalment of the Fast and Furious series has also been delayed, with the theatrical release of Fast 9 pushed back a full year over concerns of the impact of the coronavirus. "We feel all the love and the anticipation you have for the next chapter in our saga,” the film's account posted to Twitter. “That’s why it’s especially tough to let you know that we have to move the release date of the film. It’s become clear that it won’t be possible for all of our fans around the world to see the film this May.” The latest in the Bond Franchise, No Time to Die, saw its release date pushed to November for the same reasons.

Expect this to continue as governments work to slow, reduce, or stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus by limiting large gatherings and international travel.

The list continues to grow. 3/12/2020 6:45:39 PM