Indy 500: 25% attendance; masks, temperature checks mandatory

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UPDATE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Aug. 4 that the Indy 500 will be run without fans for the first time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway released new Indy 500 fan guidelines Tuesday for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, including an expected 25 percent attendance for the race and mandatory face coverings for all attendees.

Ticket sales for the Aug. 23 race (which will be shown live at 1 p.m. ET on NBC) will end Friday.

A nearly 100-page health plan will be released Wednesday “that provides guidelines and protocols for how the race will be run.”

INDY 500 INFOWhen to watch the race’s 104th running

INDYCAR IN 2020How to watch the 2020 schedule

Among the notable elements:

–Temperature checks will be conducted at all track entrances;

–Packaged food at concession stands;

–Hand sanitizer will be distributed.

Last month, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials said they were surveying fans and expected a crowd limited to 50 percent.

In a Coffee With Kyle sitdown Jan. 31, Roger Penske told Kyle Petty that Indianapolis Motor Speedway had 230,000 seats, and that 78 percent of its ticket allotment had been sold by then, including all of the track’s suites.

Here’s the Indy 500 fan guidelines release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, July 21, 2020) – Based on policies and procedures put into effect by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IMS officials announced today that attendance for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, Aug. 23 will be approximately 25 percent of capacity. Face coverings will be required for all attendees.

Ticket sales will not be permitted after Friday, July 24, further limiting the number of people who will attend the annual spectacle at the world’s largest outdoor sports facility.

IMS has prepared a detailed, nearly 100-page plan that provides guidelines and protocols for how the race will be run this year. The plan will be released publicly Wednesday, July 22 ahead of a conference call with Speedway officials. A media advisory with details surrounding the conference call will follow shortly.

“In June, we announced the race was on and that attendance would be limited to no more than 50 percent of capacity,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “We also made clear we intended to do things differently this year. By offering credits to fans who had previously purchased tickets, encouraging those over 65 to stay at home, limiting attendance in the infield, reducing tickets in our suites and promising fans their decision to not attend would not impact their seniority or right to renew tickets for 2021, we now anticipate attendance at approximately 25 percent of capacity. We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

Indy officials have made clear this year’s race will include numerous safety precautions, including 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. Numerous other changes will also be in place.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the 500 in person. Our outdoor facility is mammoth, and with attendance of about 25 percent, it will certainly look different this year,” said 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.”

IMS will fulfill all ticket requests that have been received from existing customers. Those tickets will be distributed beginning the first week of August.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”