2021 Indianapolis 500 set to be biggest event since COVID-19 pandemic began with 135,000 fans

Nick Bromberg
·2 min read

Over 100,000 fans will be at the 2021 Indianapolis 500.

A year after the historic race was moved to August and held without fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Wednesday that the May 30 race would be held with 135,000 fans in attendance. That six-figure number will make it far and away the most-attended sporting event since the pandemic began. 

Alabama's April 18 football spring game is currently the highest-attended post-pandemic event with over 47,000 fans.

“The number-one thing fans can do to ensure a great race day is get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. “We continue to offer vaccinations at IMS and will be extending our mass vaccination clinic throughout the month of May. This is all part of the effort to continue getting Indiana back on track.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been a mass vaccination site since April 1. Fans will be required to wear masks at the race and will also have their temperatures taken as they enter and the track isn't selling general admission tickets.

Thought 135,000 is still a fraction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway capacity — 40% to be exact — the track has 250,000 grandstand seats and there is ample room for more fans to camp and spread out through the infield. While official attendance is not typically announced for Indy 500s in normal times, there have been races with an estimated 300,000 people in attendance. 

That number of people routinely made the Indianapolis 500 the most-attended sporting event in pre-pandemic North America.

“Our fans mean everything to us, and we can’t wait to welcome them ‘Back Home Again’ for this year’s Indy 500,” track president Doug Boles said. “The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd."

The 2021 Indy 500 is the sixth race of the IndyCar season. The 2021 season began on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and continues this upcoming weekend in St. Petersburg.

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