Updated Indy 500 plan
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Updated Indy 500 plan includes fans allowed for practice and qualifying

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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 unveiled an updated 88-page plan Wednesday for the 104th edition of the Indy 500 on Aug. 23 (1 p.m. ET, NBC) that will allow fans at practice and qualifying.

The updated Indy 500 plan will eliminate many ancillary activities, including all race week concerts, the 500 Festival Parade downtown, Legends Day at IMS, the VIP Red Carpet and the Last Row Party.

During a news conference Wednesday, track president Doug Boles said fans will be allowed for practice and qualifying. “In the next week, we’ll mark seats where people can sit and not to sit to make sure they are distanced,” Boles said.

It was announced Tuesday that the track capacity for the race will be limited to roughly 25 percent of the total crowd (which normally is estimated at 300,000 including grandstands, suites and infield). Masks will be mandated indoors and outdoors inside the track, and anyone entering will be screened with a contactless thermometer (those in excess of 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering).

The annual local blackout of the Indianapolis 500 also will be lifted, allowing Indiana residents to watch live on NBC.

Here’s the release on the updated Indy 500 practice and qualifying plan for fans from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, July 22, 2020) – Officials from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today released a detailed 88-page plan they have put in place to welcome the estimated 25 percent of capacity crowd expected to attend the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, Aug. 23.

Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president & CEO, also announced that this year’s race will air live in Indianapolis on NBC, allowing more Hoosiers to watch in real-time from their homes.

“Everything will be different about this year’s race, from the reduced crowd size, to a new distanced seating arrangement, to mandatory masks and a live broadcast throughout Central Indiana,” Miles said. “We will welcome fans to the ‘500’ based on a highly detailed, careful plan that was developed in collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

The plan was developed over the last four months by a team of Indy officials and national health experts, including Dr. Edward Racht, chief medical officer of Global Medical Response, the largest emergency medical services provider in the nation. It has also been approved by the Marion County Department of Public Health subject to continued review.

“The IMS plan has been developed in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health, and reflects the current best practices and mitigating steps outdoor venues should have in place to host public events,” Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said. “It meets or exceeds all local guidelines and is approved subject to continued review. I appreciate the serious and collaborative approach IMS has displayed throughout this process.”

“The IMS plan is detailed and extensive and takes all the right steps to ensure the best measures and precautions are in place,” Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said. “Speedway officials have been transparent and communicative throughout this process, and we appreciate the opportunities we’ve had to provide input.”

Highlights of the plan include:

–Attendance will be at approximately 25 percent.
–Seats will be reassigned to provide for greater distancing.
–Masks will be mandated throughout the entire venue, both indoors and outdoors.
–Everyone will be screened with a contactless thermometer, and individuals with a temperature in excess of 100.4 degrees will be prohibited from entering the Speedway.
–All drinking fountains and misting stations will be removed.
–Capacity limits on elevators will be enforced.
–Options from concession stands will be limited to mostly pre-packaged foods.
–To reduce crowding, many activities will be eliminated, including all concerts, the VIP Red Carpet and the Indiana Press Foundation’s Last Row Party.
–To help the venue and community prepare for Indy 500 Race Day, all Saturday activities, including Legends Day at IMS and the downtown 500 Festival Parade, have been canceled. Key 500 Festival programming will transition to digital platforms.
Signage will be displayed throughout the venue to encourage healthy practices, and staff will move about the facility to monitor conditions and assist customers.

The plan dives deeply into facility sanitation, cleaning and disinfecting practices, and workforce preparation training and deployment.

“We think it’s important to welcome race fans to the ‘500’ and to demonstrate that America, Indiana and Indianapolis do not need to shut down,” Miles said. “We can and will operate with every precaution we can think of as we welcome fans to the race. We will continue to work with our local and state health officials to ensure we’re doing whatever is necessary to protect our fans.”

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
Laurent Charniaux/Pool via Getty Images
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SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.