Month of May

Fewer people, fewer concession stands at Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis 500 fans at the track Sunday will find concession stands operating a little differently in this year of limits due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nevertheless, said Paul Bonney, the regional manager with Levy Restaurants, “We’re really excited to have our fans back. It’s been a long time coming.”

Bonney said 2021 operations have been streamlined; while almost all foods sold in previous years are still available, fans may have to walk a bit farther to find them.

“They still get all the options they need with the speed of service we need at the stands to ensure their safety,” Bonney said. “It’s just not at every location. Whereas in the past you’d have a Philly cheesesteak at every concession stand, you might have it at every other one (this year) so they can focus on the core business that build our industry.”

The race will have 71 fewer concession stands than the last race open to fans in 2019, but much of that is because of the lack of a big crowd in the infield.

Plus, be ready for fewer checkout lanes, too, as Levy works to maintain social distance behind the counter. But with 40% fan capacity — that’s 135,000 people — officials hope lines won’t be any longer than in 2019 or earlier years.

Another big change: Indianapolis Motor Speedway is doing only cashless transactions this year. Anyone who wants to use cash at the track will need to exchange it at one of six reverse ATMs for a debit card that can be used even after race day is over. “The cards are good anywhere Visa is accepted,” Bonney said.

The cashless transactions should speed up the process, too, he said. Levy officials said cash transactions take twice as long as ones with cards or smartphones.

Levy and its partners will staff 121 food and beverage locations this year, down from 192 in 2019.

After a year of preparation, Bonney has messages for fans: “We’re very excited for them to be here. Be patient with us. We’re here to ensure they have a safe experience.”

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