Indy 500 abandons plans to allow spectators

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske has been forced to drop his aim of allowing limited numbers of spectators to attend the 2020 Indianapolis 500.

The veteran US motorsport team owner, who purchased both the 2.5-mile speedway and the IndyCar Series in November 2019, had been hoping to fill around 25% of the stadium’s 257,000 capacity for America’s most famed race. This has been rescheduled from May 24 to August 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But now a rise in Covid-19 cases across Indiana and the Midwest states of the USA has led to the decision to run the race behind closed doors, for the first time in its 109-year history.

In a statement, the Speedway said that a tough decision had been made following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership. Spectators who have bought tickets will be able to retain them, and their chosen seats, for the 2021 race.

“We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment,” the statement said.

IndyCar has been allowing limited numbers of spectators into its road-course races in recent weeks while NASCAR has also begun to permit some spectators to attend meetings at oval stadiums.

Practice for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 begins on August 12.

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Andrew Charman is a regular contributor to PMW. He has been working in motorsport for more than 35 years, specialising in Touring Cars and US motorsport, particularly NASCAR.

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