Updated Indy 500 plan includes fans allowed for practice and qualifying

Updated Indy 500 plan
AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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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.”