Indy 500 legends explain what ‘The Brickyard’ means to them

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With the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 now almost here, NBC Sports recently reached out to several Indy 500 winning drivers and owners, to hear their thoughts on what makes the race such a special event.  Click the links below to see what each Indy 500 legend had to say:

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

Mario Andretti

For Mario Andretti, winning the Indianapolis 500 was the realization of a 13-year-old boy’s dream. He lauded the tradition of the race that other major sports events just can’t match.

Click here for Mario’s thoughts on what makes the Indy 500 so special to him

Michael Andretti

Five-time Indy 500 winning owner Michael Andretti shared with NBC Sports his first memories of the race from 1969 when his father won and described IMS as “sacred ground” where finishing first is what everyone dreams about.

Click here so see why the Indy 500 means so much to Michael

Roger Penske

Roger Penske remembered his first Indy 500 victory as a “game-changer” for his racing team, and the 17-time winning owner calls Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “foundation of all racing.”

Click here for to hear from the most successful owner in Indy 500 history

Bobby Unser

“If these bricks could talk, you wouldn’t believe what they’d say,” Bobby Unser, three-time Indianapolis 500 champion and the second-oldest man ever to win the Indy 500, said.

Click here for “Uncle Bobby’s” thoughts on “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”

Dario Franchitti

Three-time Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti explained to NBC Sports why The Brickyard means so much and touched on the family ties that bind Indianapolis Motor Speedway year after year.

Click here for three-time champ’s thoughts.

Rick Mears

Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears said that his success at IMS surpassed his wildest dreams, and that he didn’t understand what it meant initially to win the “Super Bowl” of IndyCar.

Click here to for the thoughts of a four-time Indy 500 champion. 

Johnny Rutherford

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford explained to NBC Sports why Indianapolis Motor Speedway is “just the place to be” every Memorial Day weekend.

Click here for “Lone Star JR’s” thought’s

Parnelli Jones

Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones explained why that fateful day in 1963 was “the greatest thing [he] could do” and that he’ll “never have a better day than the day [he] pulled into victory lane.”

Click here to see what the 1963 winner had to say 

Coverage of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, then moves over to NBC at 11:00 a.m. ET.

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.