INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis 500, rained out Monday for the second day in a row, has been rescheduled for Saturday with ABC television carrying the race live.
For most of Monday, motor racing's most prestigious event was unscheduled.
After a morning downpour made it obvious that the race could not be run, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials waited until late afternoon to announce that it would "delay the announcement of the rescheduling of the race until the Indianapolis area has a more positive weather forecast."
With a 50% chance of showers forecast through Thursday, Speedway officials had abandoned hopes of attempting to hold the three-hour race today, but they refused to say they were negotiating with TV.
At 6:45 p.m., Joseph Cloutier, president of IMS, announced the delay until Saturday, with the added note that it would be televised.
Speculation during the day was that--with or without TV--the 500 might be advanced to Saturday in order to give cleanup crews an opportunity to pick up the mass of debris left by the 350,000 spectators who sat in vain on Sunday for the race to start.
The decision to race Saturday was accompanied by an announcement that a 200-mile race Sunday at Milwaukee would be rescheduled for Sunday, June 8. Although the Milwaukee race is sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams and the Indy 500 by the United States Auto Club the cars and drivers are the same.
No practice time has been announced for the 33 cars that will race on Saturday, but most teams and crews were hoping that a session could be held between now and race day to make sure all the parts were still in concert.
For most of Monday, IMS officials said nothing that meant anything, apparently stalling until a coordinated announcement could be made with ABC.
Rumors that the race entry blank called for the 500 to be on the "next available date" proved to be inaccurate. This year's entry called for the race to be held "Sunday, May 25, 11 a.m. with subsequent rain dates if necessary."
A prepared track announcement, read at 3:10 p.m. by IMS spokesman Bill York, said:
"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway regrets for the second consecutive day to announce the postponement of the 1986 Indianapolis 500 for Monday, May 26.
"With an unfavorable weather forecast for tomorrow, we have decided to delay the announcement of the rescheduling of the race until the Indianapolis area has a more positive weather forecast.
"The media will be advised of the rescheduling of the race as soon as possible."
Shortly after that, Al Bloemker, IMS vice president, announced that any decision to hold the race would be made at least 12 hours before the start.
Michael Andretti, the Long Beach Grand Prix winner who will start on the front row, was read the statement and then told of the 12-hour arrangement.
"You've got to be kidding," he said. "That's ridiculous."
When Tom Binford, the 500's chief steward, was asked to explain the ambiguous announcement from Speedway officials, he was unable to unravel it.
"I only know what they said," Binford said. "I do not know when the race will be held. As they said, it is on hold. It is not my decision."
The "they" to whom Binford referred is apparently the IMS board of directors, consisting of President Cloutier; Mary Hulman, chairman of the board; and Mari George and Tony Hulman George, vice presidents of the family owned corporation.
There were as many suggestions of what the earlier Speedway announcement meant as there were reporters, drivers and crewmen.
The most persistent was that the race would be run Saturday--with ABC back with a live telecast. This was to have been the first live telecast of the 500, but Irv Brodsky of ABC announced early Monday that "ABC will not cover the Indianapolis 500 past today."
Later developments indicated that apparently meant no weekday telecasts. ABC was on the air Sunday for 5 hours 43 minutes, but regular programming was resumed Monday when it became apparent there would be no race.
There were also reports during the day that the Speedway was buying time to put together a maintenance and safety crew for the delayed event. Hundreds of people involved with the race, from policemen to concessionaires, had to return to their regular jobs today and would not be available for their race-day duties.
One result of the postponement was cancellation of Monday night's victory banquet. According to Speedway officials, it will not be rescheduled.
Sunday, despite morning showers, all roads toward the Speedway were clogged with cars, buses, campers, motor homes and pedestrians, heading to the track. A full complement of 350,000 were there.
Monday, with a much harder rain falling, the same roads were clogged with traffic going in the opposite direction as would-be spectators were bailing out.