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2021 Indy 500 Will Welcome Fans, But Nobody Knows How Many

Motorsport's milkiest podium ceremony will once again be cheered on from the stands, but how loudly?

Now that vaccine programs are gaining momentum, with Axios reporting the United States among global vaccination leaders, a soft glow is forming on the horizon; our long night of solace may at last be nearing its dawn. In that welcome light, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will once again open its doors to spectators for the crown jewel of the IndyCar calendar, the 2021 Indianapolis 500, though nobody knows how many fans will be allowed through the gates—not even track officials.

So said IMS officials to Racer, which reports details on virus-related restriction and, consequently, ticket purchase information, won’t be available until spring. In other words, no sooner than March 20, though with the race running May 30, something concrete can’t be too far out.

2020 Indianapolis 500, Joe Skibinski via IndyCar

“We plan to host fans at the Indy 500 and will continue working through the specific details in consultation with state and local health officials,” a track spokesperson told the publication. “As access to the vaccine increases and positivity rates decrease, the list of major sporting events welcoming spectators is growing. This includes the Super Bowl, Daytona 500 and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in our own backyard.”

“We’re still more than three months out, so there’s time to continue monitoring and gathering information,” they continued. “We’ll provide an update to fans in the spring.”

2020 Indianapolis 500 starting grid, James Black, via Indycar

As mentioned, IndyCar won’t be the first race series to resume mass spectatorship, NASCAR having beaten it to the punch by welcoming tens of thousands to its season-opening, rain-delayed Daytona 500. In retrospect, it was a brazen decision so close to the U.S. passing the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID-19-related deaths, though cases are at last taking a sharp downward trend, signaling Indy could be the first fan-safe, internationally relevant race held in America in many months.

If it’s not, that honor may fall on another race to feature a Dallara Indy car—this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—which will again allow fans through its gates on June 27. Scattering its few thousand spectators across a mountainside in the fresh, thin Rocky Mountain air, after all, still seems safer than packing oneself into the crowded bowl of a superspeedway.

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