Indy 500 Will Be Held Without Fans Amid COVID-19, Per Roger Penske

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2020

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is empty Sunday, May 24, 2020, in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis 500 was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The race will instead be held Aug. 23, three months later than its May 24 scheduled date. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Roger Penske announced Tuesday the Indianapolis 500 will be held without fans because of concern regarding the coronavirus pandemic, per Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press.

The event was already delayed from Memorial Day Weekend to Aug. 23, with the hope spectators would be able to join. Penske, who purchased the race track earlier this year, eventually changed his mind and called it "the toughest business decision I've ever made in my life."

It will be the first time this race is held without fans since its inception in 1911.      

Organizers had previously announced plans to reduce attendance to 50 percent capacity and then 25 percent capacity, but that still allowed for about 80,000 people. The pandemic will now force the facility to shut the doors to all spectators.

"We need to be safe and smart about this," Penske said. "Obviously we want full attendance, but we don't want to jeopardize the health and safety of our fans and the community. We also don't want to jeopardize the ability to hold a successful race."

There have already been over 150,000 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Indiana has had spikes in the virus over the past few weeks, with July 31 seeing 941 new cases, per Johns Hopkins.

IU Health, a partner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, recommended against having fans at the Indy 500.

Despite the changes, the race is still set to take place with about 1,500 essential personnel at the track, according to Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star.