By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – Despite a dire forecast for a day-long downpour on Sunday, there is no contingency plan to bump the Indianapolis 500 over to a Monday, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) officials said on Thursday.
Only three times (1915, 1986 and 1997) in 102 runnings has rain forced the Indy 500 to be postponed and rescheduled while on two other occasions (1967 and 1973) it was started before finishing on another day.
With forecasts projecting a 70% chance of thunderstorms and showers there are worries Sunday’s race could be added to the list of washouts and run on what is the United States Memorial Day holiday on Monday.
IMS president Doug Boles conceded rain was on his radar but for the moment the green flag would drop as scheduled at 12:45 ET (1645 GMT).
“Instead of speculating, we don’t know what it is going to be like, I’d rather just wait until Sunday when we see the conditions,” Boles told a media briefing. “Obviously, if it is raining we are not going to run the Indianapolis 500 and we are going to have to decide what the next steps are.
“Our intent would be if there is a window to get the race done on Sunday.
“If it is not raining and it is time to run, in my mind, we’re running the race.”
IMS also indicated it is not likely to take a page out of the Masters playbook when Augusta National officials last month moved the final round start times forward and sent players off from the first and 10th tees in an ultimately successful bid to complete the year’s first major.
Boles said they had taken notice but were unlikely to come up with a similar plan.
“We noticed that and it was a pretty bold move on their part,” said Boles. “I think in that situation they knew the night before that they were 100% going to get hit pretty hard.
“We had the conversation, I think it is very unlikely in our scenario we would do that although I wouldn’t rule it out.
“But at this point in time I think it is unlikely.”
Storms look set to disrupt the entire race weekend.
Nearly an inch (2.5cm) of rain fell on Thursday, turning the sprawling camp grounds around the oval into muddy quagmires just as thousands of race fans moved in for a weekend of partying.
More rain is forecast for Friday, threatening to play havoc with Carb Day festivities that include a concert and final practice.
(This story corrects year in second parahraph)
(Editing by Ed Osmond)