Indianapolis 500

IMS lifts blackout for Indy 500; race to air live in Indianapolis

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) – More Hoosiers will now be able to watch the 2020 Indianapolis 500 as it happens.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has lifted the blackout for the annual race in Indianapolis. Normally, the race is shown in its entirety in Indianapolis on Sunday night after the completion of the race.

That’s according to a nearly 90-page plan released Wednesday morning by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are 230,000 permanent seats at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IMS says only 25% of those seats will be used. Larger groups will be spread out over several rows and still allow smaller groups to stay within a reasonable distance of one another.

“The idea was that everyone, every group of two has somebody on either side with nobody in the seat and there is nobody that ever sits in front of you or behind you,” said Doug Boles, IMS president

On Tuesday, IMS announced that fan capacity at the race would be limited to 25% and that face masks would be required.

Additional details of the plan include:

  • Seats will be reassigned to provide for greater distancing.
  • Masks will be mandated throughout the entire venue, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Everyone will be screened with a contactless thermometer, and individuals with a temperature in excess of 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering the Speedway.
  • All drinking fountains and misting stations will be removed.
  • Capacity limits on elevators will be enforced.
  • Options from concession stands will be limited to mostly pre-packaged foods.
  • To reduce crowding, many activities will be eliminated, including all concerts, the VIP Red Carpet and the Indiana Press Foundation’s Last Row Party.
  • To help the venue and community prepare for Indy 500 Race Day, all Saturday activities, including Legends Day at IMS and the downtown 500 Festival Parade, have been canceled. Key 500 Festival programming will transition to digital platforms.
  • Signage will be displayed throughout the venue to encourage healthy practices, and staff will move about the facility to monitor conditions and assist customers.

“If everyone is doing it so we can enjoy something like this, it becomes a much easier process for a large group of people so you will see a tremendous amount of messaging a tremendous amount of reminders even during the event,” said Dr. Ed Racht of Global Medical Response.

“Everything will be different about this year’s race, from the reduced crowd size, to a new distanced seating arrangement, to mandatory masks and a live broadcast throughout Central Indiana,” Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president & CEO said. “We will welcome fans to the ‘500’ based on a highly detailed, careful plan that was developed in collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

“The IMS plan has been developed in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health, and reflects the current best practices and mitigating steps outdoor venues should have in place to host public events,” Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said. “It meets or exceeds all local guidelines and is approved subject to continued review. I appreciate the serious and collaborative approach IMS has displayed throughout this process.” 

IMS management will remove fans who consistently ignore the mask rule.

The race is not officially sold out; however IMS says it is waiting for ticket holders to claim seats or pass on attending this year. IMS expects to have all seats assigned later this week.

Currently, coolers will be allowed and the concession stands will be open, although the menu is still being prepared. Expect food to be prepackaged, which could mean no “track dogs” this year.

On July 5 during the Brickyard 400, hundreds of people gathered outside along the fence; the same is expected for the 500. IMS says it will distribute masks to people gathered along the fence.

For more on the 500 plan, click here.

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