Penske, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, since the deal was closed on January 6 last year, had to suffer the heartbreaking sight of empty grandstands at the ‘Racing Capital of the World’ for last year’s Indy 500.
Despite the race being postponed from its traditional Memorial Day Weekend date in May to the third week in August, the country was still in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Indiana, like most other U.S. states, had hard restrictions in place preventing mass gatherings of any kind, even outside.
This year, with those restrictions easing, Penske Entertainment was able to announce just last month that today’s 105th running could open to 40 percent capacity – a total of 135,000 fans. The situation is improving elsewhere, too, as IndyCar’s Detroit Grand Prix double-header in two weeks will allow fans back into the paddock – a relief for all investors since one of IndyCar’s and IMSA’s biggest selling points has been spectator access to the stars and cars.
Fans at the Speedway, which has been a major vaccination venue for several weeks, have had to prove they have been vaccinated before being granted access to Gasoline Alley and the garages here.
Today Roger Penske sent out a message to all fans and participants.
“We are so excited to host you at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and honored to welcome you back home for today’s running of the 105th Indianapolis 500,” he said. “We appreciate your patience and all of your support over the last year as we have worked to safely bring fans back to the 500.
“There is nothing like celebrating “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with our fans and hearing your cheers here at IMS. We missed having you here last year and it only feels right to have you back at the Racing Capital of the World.
“As we continue our work at IMS to make it even better for our fans, we are so proud that today’s race will help our country keep moving forward and we hope to have a full house next year for the Indianapolis 500.”
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images