Mark your calendars for 104th running of Indianapolis 500 because the long-awaited event is finally taking place on August 23rd, 2020. This year’s Indianapolis 500 has been making headlines since March when “the greatest spectacle in racing” got postponed due to COVID 19. A full four-day schedule was recently released with practice starting on August 11th. The race will include 33 international race drivers with 500 miles track to cover, making your day filled with excitement and uproar.
IMS president Doug Boles talking to the IndyStar said, “a 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway without fans would be just that – a 500-mile race without fans, and that’s not the Indy 500. In order to have the Indy 500, you have to have fans.” The area that covers the track, grandstands, suits and infield can hold up to 350,000 people. However, this year the number of people allowed to attend this grand spectacle are only 25% of the capacity. This decision has been made mostly due to the fan’s response to the tickets they had already bought. A limit of 50% of the capacity was earlier announced in June. A further reduction in the percentage was also to limit the effects of coronavirus pandemics on such gatherings.
The IMS also canceled a number of events, not related to racing, such as concerts, Last Row Party, Legends Day, VIP Red Carpet and the 500 Festival parade. Fans who were lucky enough to buy Bronze and Silver badges before the sale ended in June will still be able to see the pits, garages, and drivers, despite other restrictions.
In order to ensure the presence of their beloved fans, Penske Entertainment Corp. has revised a couple of things and came up with a plan that worked on for the past 4 months by Indy officials and national health experts. With the introduction of a detailed list of safety and health protocols contributing of 88 pages, it goes to show how they would be taking care of the health of their customers as well as their employees. This plan has not only been approved by the Marion County Public Health Department but also been said to exceed all local guidelines by the Director.
All the customers will be asked to wear masks all the time they are present in the track or around it, except for when they are eating or drinking. This is expected to be strictly followed by all the employees and customers with forced expulsion if it’s not followed. Fans and employees will also go under temperature checks which will be contactless at the entry. If anyone has a body temperature of 100.4 or higher will then be taken to a separate for a thorough check, and will not be allowed on the grounds if a higher temperature is confirmed.
The seats have also been reassigned to maintain social distancing. Some things like capacity limits on elevators and lifts, misting stations and drinking fountains removed, and ensuring the availability of pre-packaged food has also been introduced. The schedule for the race day has also been slightly delayed, opening gates at 08:00 am for fans and the green flag to fall at around 02:30 pm.
Lastly, IMS had also asked people more vulnerable to the pandemic such as people over 65 years of age or from hotspot areas to rethink their decision of attending the race. In order to not strip away the chance to enjoy the race for Hoosiers, for the fourth time in the history, the traditional live TV blackout has been lifted by IMS.
As for drivers this year, Team Penske has four racers, including Josef Newgarden (1), Will Power (12), Simon Pagenaud (22) and for a one-off entry Helio Castroneves (3), in the race. Zach Veach (26), Ryan Hunter-Reay (28), Colton Herta (88), James Hinchcliffe (29), Marco Andretti (98) and Alexander Rossi (27) are locked in so far from Andretti Autosport. From Chip Ganassi Racing, drivers Felix Rosenqvist (10), Scott Dixon (9), and Marcus Ericsson (8) and from Arrow McLaren on a one-off entry Fernando Alonso (66), SP Patricio O’Ward (5) and Oliver Askew (7) are said to be confirmed. Max Chilton (59) has been confirmed from Carlin, and Dreyer and Reinbold Racing is hoping to add another racer after confirming Sage Karam (24). Teams having three racers from A.J. Foyt Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing each, including Charlie Kimball (4), Tony Kanaan (14), Dalton Kellett (41) and
Ed Carpenter (20), Rinus VeeKay (21), on a one-off entry Conor Daly (47), respectively, have also been confirmed. A team from Dale Coyne Racing will include two racers consisting of Alex Palou (55) and Santino Ferrucci (18). Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will have a team of three racers consisting of Takuma Sato (30), Graham Rahal (15) and Spencer Pigot (45). Lastly, with Jack Harvey (60) from Meyer Shank Racing and Max Chilton (59) from Carlin we have got 31 racers confirmed.
With almost two weeks until practice starts, DragonSpeed is expected to confirm Ben Hanley for the 500 mile race. Top Gun Racing is also hopeful to put together a team for the greatest spectacle in racing.