The Indianapolis 500 will not take place behind closed doors this year, nor will it take place far removed from its traditional Memorial Day Weekend slot.
The state of Indiana and Marion County will permit the Greatest Spectacle in Racing up to 40 percent capacity next month, meaning a maximum of 135,000 fans will be allowed to attend the May 30 race, as confirmed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday.
The Racing Capitol of the World has a maximum grandstands seating capacity of 230,000, but attendance has been closer to 300,000 over the past several years after the centennial era due to infield tickets, track suites and competitors.
Already the 15th largest city in the United States, Indianapolis and Speedway becomes a top-10 metropolis each year on Race Day for the world’s most famous motorsports event.
The 40 percent number was made jointly by the Speedway and Marion Country Public Health Department officials. There will be no general admission tickets sold and everyone in attendance must wear face coverings throughout the event. Temperature checks will be administered upon entry through the gates.
“Our fans mean everything to us, and we can’t wait to welcome them ‘Back Home Again’ for this year’s Indy 500,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said in a release. “The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd. The health and safety of everyone coming to IMS, along with Central Indiana and the Hoosier State, have been paramount throughout this process.
“The No. 1 thing fans can do to ensure a great Race Day is get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Penske Entertainment President & CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “We continue to offer vaccinations at IMS and will be extending our mass vaccination clinic throughout the Month of May. This is all part of the effort to continue getting Indiana back on track.”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway has already held multiple mass vaccination events this spring will have another from April 24-30 and in early May. Miles has already said that 90 percent of the IndyCar Series has received at least a portion of the COVID-19 vaccination.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have to help us return to the activities we love and have missed over the last year, and every day, more members of our community receive the lifesaving protection it offers thanks in part to community partners like Roger Penske and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Dr. Virginia Caine, director and chief medical officer of the Marion County Public Health Department, said in a release. “Our vaccination rates, combined with the outdoor nature of the event, make it possible for fans to return to these hallowed grounds for the Indy 500 this year.
“We are grateful to the IMS team for their collaboration throughout this planning process and appreciate their work to ensure vaccines reach our neighbors. I continue to invite everyone in our community 16 and older to visit ourshot.in.gov or call 2-1-1 to sign up for the vaccine.”
The speedway says there are still tickets remaining for both Race Day and all other events throughout the Month of May.
Feature photo – ICON SPORTSWIRE/GETTY IMAGES