Following a reschedule from May 24 to August 23 and a reduction to 50 (and then to 25) percent attendance, those in charge of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have decided to hold the 104th running at the Brickyard without fans entirely.
Dedicated fans of the IndyCar series will remember Roger Penske’s declaration in early June: “It’s still almost three months from now and I think we’ll be OK. But we will run it only with fans.” In the same conversation, held with Racer, IMS’ owner said that even if the Greatest Spectacle in Racing had to be delayed again, until September, the doors would remain open. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases have spiked in Marion County, Indiana, since June 26, and, following “extensive consultation with state and city leadership,” IMS decided to keep the August race date and close the doors.
It’s the first time the Indy 500 has run without spectators, but, as 2020 has proven, a global pandemic is no respecter of precedence. The no-fans policy extends to race day and to all practice and qualifying sessions. Those who have already purchased tickets, however, will have those stubs credited towards next year’s event (held May 30, 2021) and will retain their seat selections.
“Penske Corporation made a long-term investment to be the steward of this legendary facility. While we were very excited to showcase the investments and enhancements we have made in the guest experience, we know we have reached the right decision,” the IMS release reads. “As much as Roger Penske and everyone associated with the 500 wanted to race with fans this year, we ultimately reached this conclusion in partnership with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis.
“Our commitment to the Speedway is unwavering and we will continue to invest in the Racing Capital of the World.”
So grab some Doritos and get comfy on your couch for the 2020 Indy 500. The first practice session starts Wednesday, August 12, and you can catch everything up to and including the race itself, which starts at 1 p.m. ET, on NBC.