Indianapolis 500 attendance limited to 25 per cent capacity

(Credit: Getty Images)

Attendance at next month’s Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be limited to 25 per cent capacity, while all attendees will be required to wear face coverings.

Last month, IMS officials announced plans to fill the grandstands to 50 per cent capacity for the rescheduled showpiece NTT IndyCar Series race on August 23. But that figure has since been readjusted due to the shifting nature of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana, can hold approximately 350,000 fans, meaning up to 87,500 could attend this year’s event. This would still be the biggest attendance, by far, of sporting events in North America held amid the coronavirus crisis.

Health and safety precautions include the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the issuance and required use of masks; distribution of hand sanitizer to all who enter; temperature checks in order to enter; and changes throughout the facility to minimize lines and gathering spots, including limiting options from concession stands to mostly pre-packaged foods.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the 500 in person. Our outdoor facility is mammoth, and with attendance of about 25 per cent, it will certainly look different this year,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. president and chief executive Mark Miles. “We want to demonstrate that even under current circumstances, people can gather with carefully planned procedures in place so we don’t have to go back to shutting down our country and our community.”

This year’s Indianapolis 500 will mark the first time since 1946 that the famed auto race will not be held on Memorial Day weekend.

Elsewhere in motorsports, US stock car racing series Nascar has announced that the remaining national series events on the 2020 schedule will be held without practice and qualifying.

The move is designed to further reduce the number of people required and time spent at tracks.

“Following discussions with our race teams and the broader industry, Nascar will continue to conduct its race weekends without practice and qualifying for the remainder of the 2020 season in all three national series,” said Nascar senior vice president of competition Scott Miller. “The current format has worked well in addressing several challenges during our return to racing. Most importantly, we have seen competitive racing week-to-week. Nascar will adjust the starting lineup draw procedure for the Playoff races, and will announce the new process at a later date.”