INDIANAPOLIS — Roger Penske, the new owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the IndyCar Series, put his mark on the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 this week.
In a letter to current ticket holders, Penske laid out the first major details on how he plans to host his first Indy 500 on Sunday, Aug. 23, as the race was postponed from Sunday, May 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Speedway will allow 50% capacity for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, which has traditionally attracted around 250,000 fans to the 2.5-mile oval but published reports have indicated that the track can seat up to 350,000.
“We’re committed to running the Indy 500 on Sunday, Aug. 23 and will welcome fans to the world’s greatest racing venue,’’ said Doug Boles, President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50%, and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures.’’
Friday’s email to thousands of ticket holders for this year’s event directed the fans to create or log into their ticket account at www.IMS.com to take a survey on how they would like to approach using or not using their tickets for the race. IMS is hopeful that all surveys will be filled out by July 6.
The options available to ticket owners are to retain all of their tickets, return a portion of them or relinquish all of them for this year.
None of these actions will affect their seniority ranking or their right to renew tickets for the 2021 Indy 500. Once again the renewal process will begin days after this year’s event in August.
IMS says that is can guarantee only that 50% of the original ticket allotments will remain in the same general seating area as the track is planning on moving fans around the grandstands to allow for proper social distancing. Tickets that have already been distributed are no longer valid as brand new race tickets will be redistributed.
Any fans that may want to avoid a large crowd this season will not lose their seniority but will be offered an account credit good for other IMS events including Indy 500 practices, qualifying days, Carb Day, the Harvest Grand Prix on Oct. 3 or toward the renewal of their 2021 tickets. That credit procedure is not in place for any other on-track fan-related events around this year’s race. General admission tickets to events like practice, qualifications and Carb Day are non-refundable, but attendance for those events are not expected to be curtailed by capacity percentages.
Friday’s letter also stated that each patron will receive a cloth mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer when they enter the property, and though mask wearing will not be strictly enforced the use of masks is “recommended” by the track.
Additionally, fans can expect more in-depth health guidelines to be distributed in July.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway will still host an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on the July 4 weekend without fans.