Indy 500 Will Be The Largest Sporting Event Since COVID Started, Attendance Capped At 135,000

Illustration for article titled Indy 500 Will Be The Largest Sporting Event Since COVID Started, Attendance Capped At 135,000
Image: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

In 2020, despite delaying the race to August, the Greatest Spectacle in Motorsports was forced to run without fans in the stands thanks to the hell that is Coronavirus. Takuma Sato was forced to celebrate his second Indy win to a silent crowd. This year, despite the fact that this country still experiences nearly one thousand deaths from this disease every single day [thirteen and a half thousand globally], the track has decided that it will sell enough tickets for 40 percent capacity, or 135,000 people.

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Back in February the track announced that it would run with fans in the stands, and at the time we were in the midst of a massive wave of new infections and deaths. I was incredulous then that such a tone deaf announcement could be made. Since then the new presidential administration has rolled out a comprehensive plan to get all Americans vaccinated against COVID, and the rollout has increased exponentially since then. As it stands, 50 percent of this country has had at least one inoculation, which is impressive, but I’m still not sure it’s time to gather six figures worth of humans in the same location.

Remember when the Superbowl went off with 25,000 people in the stands? This is over five times as many people. It’s still a pretty big risk, and for what? To watch some cars race. I love racing more than most people in the world, and I’ve had both doses of vaccine, but I’m still not ready to jump into the deep end of the virus mutation pool. This is going to be the single largest gathering of people in one place since before last March.

We’re in a pretty fortunate position here in the U.S. as we’ve got reasonably easy access to the vaccine, but Europe, Asia, Africa, and much of South America are still experiencing a massive wave of new infections as this bullshit drags on. The longer it takes to get the world inoculated, the more susceptible we are to a mutation of the virus coming in like a wrecking ball. Is motorsport really worth the risk? I would argue it isn’t. 

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

DISCUSSION

I commented on this issue before, and while I realize the number is substantial, IMS is absolutely massive.

I am by no means a covid denier, and I’ve had a few in my family pass from it. However given he date it will be held on and the number of fans in an outdoor facility of this size, I’d say the risk doesn’t look as harsh as some of those indoor sporting events, gyms or restaurants.

We've just come to a point where all this country has done is half measures, so why be outraged now?