The field takes the turn one after the restart during the 103rd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MAY 26: The field takes the turn one after the restart during the 103rd Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Behind The Decision To Not Allow Fans At This Year’s Indy 500

Is it really a ‘spectacle’ if nobody is there to see it?

This is one of the many odd questions 2020 has forced race fans to ask themselves. We now know that this year’s ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ will be run on August 23rd without fans in attendance.

IMS President Doug Boles visited The Ride with JMV on Tuesday to give his perspective on an Indianapolis 500 without spectators.

“Heartbroken is the best way I can describe it from at least my standpoint and certainly, I think, most everybody here,” Boles said. “I know Roger [Penske] is extremely disappointed. He’s allowed us to do so many things…that are just all about making the fan experience better, and he was so excited to get fans inside the gate to see them…and get their feedback so that we can continue to make investments heading into next year.”

Boles pointed to another increase in Covid-19 numbers over the last few days as the driving force behind the decision to reduce capacity from 25% to 0%.

“The metrics in Marion County, in particular, are just trending in the wrong direction,” Boles said. “It was a terrible decision to have to make, but we’ve worked with the state and the city all along in this one and it was the decision that we came to.”

Fans will have to wait until 2021 to experience the thrill and rich tradition of May at IMS once again.

“I don’t know that I still have come to grips with it,” Boles said. “You know, I’m a fan first and foremost. I know what the Indianapolis 500 experience means to our fans. I know what it means to go to bed the night before the 500 and set your alarm and get up in the dark and park in the same spot…often times you’ve been in the same seats year over year over year. And that’s as much about the Indy 500 as the race itself.”

“Frankly, it’s the fans and those traditions that have made the Indy 500 what it is today, so it’s definitely gonna be a hollow Indy 500…”

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