A few days before the first Indy 500 run without a crowd, Roger Penske wrote fans a letter to express how much he would miss being unable to greet their arrival at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Thursday, the track’s new owner showed them how much he wanted them back by meeting them at the entrance on the first day the Racing Capital of the World’s grandstands were opened to masses this year.
Penske and track president Doug Boles opened Gate 1 at noon and individually thanked a few dozen fans who were part of a socially distanced line to enter for IndyCar Harvest GP practice and qualifying and sports car practice on the IMS road course.
“Race fans are the lifeblood of what we do.”
— Indianapolis Motor Speedway (@IMS) October 1, 2020
“Race fans are the lifeblood of what we do, and we would not be here this weekend without the loyal fans that have stood by our side,” Penske said in a release. “We have all missed the fans this season, and I wanted to personally thank each and every one of them who waited in line to enter our beautiful facility. It made me proud to see just how excited our fans are to see INDYCAR racing and how much they care about IMS.”
A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day at IMS this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity that are among the multimillion-dollar upgrades since Penske took over the track in January.
Fans will be admitted solely through digital and print-at-home ticketing, receiving updated information through the Realife Tech Fan Hub and COVID Safety Hub on IMS’ mobile app.
The NTT IndyCar Series received more positive news about crowds Thursday when the St. Petersburg, Florida, mayor and city council approved up to 20,000 to attend the Oct. 25 season finale.
Here’s what the scene looked like Thursday at IMS as Penske and Boles greeted fans with fist and elbow bumps: