The Indianapolis 500 will be held behind closed doors for the first time in its 104-year history in 2020 due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indiana.
IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were initially hoping the race could run at 50 percent crowd capacity, which was further reduced to 25 percent last month.
However, it was announced today that the 23 August event, rescheduled from its traditional Memorial Day Weekend date on 24 May, would not be open to the public.
The IMS statement said the decision to run the event without fans had been made “following careful consideration and extensive consultation with state and city leadership”.
“As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened,” the statement said.
“Since our 26 June announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled.
“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.
“We encourage Hoosiers to continue making smart decisions and following the advice of our public health officials so we can help get Indiana back on track.
“Penske Corporation [track and series owner since last November] made a long-term investment to be the steward of this legendary facility.
“While we were very excited to showcase the investments and enhancements we have made in the guest experience, we know we have reached the right decision.
“As much as Roger Penske and everyone associated with the ‘500’ wanted to race with fans this year, we ultimately reached this conclusion in partnership with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis.”
Fans who still have tickets to this year’s Indy 500 will be credited for the 2021 Indy 500 and will retain their originally-assigned seats.
First practice for this year’s event will take place on Wednesday 12 August, ahead of Pole Day on 16 August and the race the following weekend on 23 August.