The Indianapolis 500 will look a little different this August with reduced fans and other health precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the race is still expected to draw in more than 50,000 spectators.
Race fans will have to undergo a temperature check at the gate and will receive a face mask and hand sanitizer. Seating will also be spread out to practice social distancing. These are just a few of the measures Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) officials released in an 88-page plan Wednesday.
Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said he believes it’s a responsible plan and can accommodate attendees due to the size of the facility.
“You know, we've always expressed it in ways like you can put the Rose Bowl and Churchill Downs and Yankee Stadium and Wimbledon and the Vatican City, all inside it,” said Miles. “Another way to think about it is the Mall in Washington D.C. It's two times the size of the Washington Mall.”
IMS President Doug Boles asks fans to be vigilant and practice social distancing including when entering and exiting the facility.
The Indy 500 will be one of the largest public gatherings since the pandemic began with thousands in attendance at a time when overall cases are rising.
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Global Medical Response Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ed Racht has been working with IMS officials to develop the plan. He said he does not believe the race should be seen as a public health experiment.
“Experiment is not a word I would use,” said Racht. “This is the application of some pretty strict criteria in a large population to minimize that transmission as we move forward across the board.”
Race officials also said there won’t be a television broadcast blackout, and residents in the Indianapolis area will now be able to see the race live.