For the first time in the history of the event, the Indianapolis 500 is set to run without any fans in attendance. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced today that due to the COVID-19 numbers in Marion County trending in the wrong direction. The race was set to proceed with up to 25% fan capacity, but today the decision was made to not allow fans at all. The 104th running of the Indy 500 will be the strangest one yet, but it is still the greatest race in the world, and the television numbers should be through the roof.
It was obviously a very difficult decision for Roger Penske, Mark Miles, and Doug Boles to make. With practice set to begin in roughly one week, time was running out for them to make their decision. The 2021 Indianapolis 500 is set for May 30, which is 299 days away. The full press release from today is below.
[Indianapolis Motor Speedway Press Release]
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway today issued the following statement:
“It is with great regret that we announce the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Aug. 23 without fans. This tough decision was made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership.
“As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened. Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled. We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment.
“We encourage Hoosiers to continue making smart decisions and following the advice of our public health officials so we can help get Indiana back on track.
“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. 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. We encourage everyone to watch this year’s race on NBC, and we look forward to welcoming our loyal fans back to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ on May 30th of 2021.”
Further Information from IMS
- All on-track activity during the month of August, including practice and qualifications, will be closed to the general public.
- Individuals who still have tickets to this year’s Indy 500 will be credited for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 and will retain their seniority and their originally assigned seats.
- The first Indy 500 practice will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 12, with a full schedule available on IMS.com.
- All of the action from IMS can be viewed via NBC Sports Gold, NBCSN or NBC. Visit IMS.com or INDYCAR.com for a comprehensive streaming and broadcast schedule.
- The 104th Running of the Indy 500 will take place Sunday, Aug. 23, with national coverage beginning on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.
- Local Central Indiana coverage of the race will be available on NBC affiliate WTHR.
- Broadcast coverage of qualifications on Saturday, Aug. 15 begins on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.
- Sunday, Aug. 16 broadcast coverage of Pole Day begins on NBC at 1 p.m.