Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske has reversed course and will not allow fans at the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 later this month.
Penske, a racing legend who purchased the iconic speedway back in January, previously said he wouldn’t run the 500 without fans.
As the coronavirus pandemic continued to spread, the speedway limited capacity to 50%, and then again to 25%, before having to run the race without fans at all.
“We need to be safe and smart about this,” Penske said in an interview with The Associated Press. “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.”
Last week, IU Health, the state’s largest health care system and a partner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said it “strongly encouraged” the racing venue to change its mind and deny fans.
“Until we sustain better control of this virus and its spread, we strongly encourage IMS to consider an alternative to running the Indy 500 with fans in August,” ” IU Health said in a statement. “We have concerns about the risks of infection beyond the scope of the IMS plan, including social gatherings, travel, restaurants, bars, accommodations and other event-related activities. This could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections as we continue to see cases and hospitalizations increase every day.”
Now racing on August 23, this will be the first time in event history that “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will be held without spectators.