Coronavirus

IMS caps Indianapolis 500 at 135,000 race fans, cancels all concerts

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be at 40% capacity — that’s 135,000 race fans — for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 due to the coronavirus pandemic, IMS announced Wednesday.

Doug Boles, president of the speedway, said in a video news conference that multiple scenarios were considered for running the race. Health officials from the state and county helped in creating the capacity limit.

The speedway says face coverings will be required and temperature checks will be administered when people enter the track. Race fans also were encouraged to be vaccinated. On March 5, the speedway began hosting the first of several mass-vaccination clinics across Indiana.

No race-day general admission tickets will be sold. The race is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. May 30.

The 2020 Indy 500 was moved from May 24 to Aug. 23 as a result of the pandemic. No fans attended the 2020 Indy 500.

Longtime race fan Steve Quinn said the capacity news was better than he expected. Quinn bought a home near the track 20 years ago; he’s been going to the race since the 1970s but last year that changed.

“I bought a T-shirt last year that said ‘I’ll be there’ and on the back it said ‘Just kidding,’ so hopefully that won’t happen this year,” Quinn said.

The speedway is the largest sporting facility in the world with more than 250,000 grandstand seats and the ability to host close to 400,000 on race day throughout the entire property. In March, track and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said that 170,000 tickets had been sold for the 2021 race. Boles said Wednesday that attendance will be capped at 135,000. That will make it the world’s largest sporting event to date during the pandemic. The Alabama spring football game last weekend hosted 47,218 fans, nearly 10,000 more than a recent Texas Rangers baseball game; an Australian Rules cricket match in Melbourne drew 51,723 in March.

The Indianapolis 500 attendance figure was determined after Indianapolis hosted the NCAA men’s basketball tournament through March and into April with limited attendance. The NCAA allowed 8,000 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium for the April 5 men’s championship game.

Drivers’ practice will be the first public events at the track in advance of the race. Practices will start at 10 a.m. May 18 and at 11 a.m. May 19-21. That will be followed by practice and qualifying starting at 8 a.m. May 22 and 10 a.m. May 23.

No parking will be allowed in the infield, with some minor exceptions.

The public drivers’ meeting in advance of the race will be virtual at 10:30 a.m. May 29. The autograph session that usually happens that morning is canceled. All concerts have also been canceled, including the popular race-day Snake Pit concert.

The Grand Prix — an IndyCar race on the twists and turns of the IMS road course — will happen May 15, with practice and qualifying on May 14. That race also will have the same capacity limits and coronavirus-prevention requirements.

The 2020 Grand Prix was moved from May to July 4, with no fans attending due to the pandemic.

IMS will allow more representatives of the news media to attend than in 2020, with coronavirus limits in the media center and in the garage area.

Anyone interested in attending can apply for tickets at ims.com. Fans who apply will be given the first opportunity to purchase any available tickets. Tickets could be sent out starting as early as next week. IMS warned that 2020 tickets are not valid for the 2021 race.

Tickets for all other on-track days also are available online.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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