104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be without race fans in attendance; Track issues statement
Ahead of the season, Roger Penske made a grand investment in the world of open wheel racing. He purchased both the NTT Indycar Series as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Indy 500 is the biggest race of the year for both of his new properties. Months ago, the race was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Penske continued to state the race would only be run with fans. However, as of today that will change as fans will not be allowed to attend the 2020 Indy 500 on August 23, for the first time in the history of the event.
The 2019 Indy 500 saw a purse of $13,090,536. Simon Pagenaud earned $2,669,529 for his 2019 victory on the 2.5-mile oval.
The purse is the highest paying Indycar event of the season. The funds largely rely on crowd attendance. It remains unclear how greatly a lack of fans will adjust the 2020 purse for the race.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway statement
“It is with great regret that we announce the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on August 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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
Notes regarding 2020 Indianapolis 500
-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, August 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, August 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 and switches to NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET.
-Sunday, Aug. 16 broadcast coverage of Pole Day begins on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.