First, Roger Penske said that Indy would absolutely not be running without fans after its delay because of the pandemic. Indy then said actually it would run with only 50 percent capacity. Then it said nah ACTUALLY 25 percent capacity. Today, Penske said it would be run without fans.
The 104th running of Indy is set to go ahead on August 23, and Penske and Indy can be forgiven for changing things up—we’re all kind of making shit up as things go along in the pandemic—but I’m happy the organizers finally landed on what surely is the safest option.
Per the Associated Press:
“We didn’t buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it’s important to our reputation to do the right thing,” Penske said in a telephone interview.
He said the financial ramifications of not hosting spectators — which even at 25% capacity, the mammoth facility could have held about 80,000 people — played no part in his decision. Rather, the continued increase of COVID-19 cases in Marion County made shutting out spectators the responsible decision.
“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.”
Penske bought IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November and proceeded to spend millions fixing up the track, making the timing of the pandemic particularly bad. The IndyCar series has been helter skelter since its June restart, with six races going off while others were rescheduled or canceled, with six more still on the schedule.
According to The New York Times, there has been over 4.7 million coronavirus cases across the U.S., and 155,395 deaths. In Indiana, at least five new deaths were reported yesterday, along with 580 new cases.