The 50% Solution

Hints and rumors came to a head today as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place August 23 with a reduced crowd of 50% of the track’s capacity. My understanding is that the 50% includes infield and camping space.

Many ticket holders (not me) received a letter today with instructions for re -ticketing. If someone does not wish to go, a credit will be issued which can be applied to next year’s race, among other options. This leaves many fans in a difficult situation. I have from several who will not attend because they feel it isn’t safe. I can’t fault anyone’s decision. It’s a personal choice.

I do believe the Speedway and Penske Entertainment Group are rushing things. They have about two more weeks to make this decision. Indian enters its final re-opening stage a week from tomorrow, and Indianapolis, I assume, will start the final stage on July 11. At this point, why not wait to see if the October date might be a better choice? I submitted a request for a ticket, but I’m not sure if I will use it.

I know this has to be a difficult decision for Doug Boles and Roger Penske. I would be more comfortable with even  fewer fans.

The Risks

I spoke with a friend of mine who is involved in the medical community in Indiana. My friend says that Indiana is prepared and is ahead of other states in keeping the spread down. The doubling rate in the entire  state is 100 days; in Marion County it is 300 days. States that have spiked in cases after re-opening were already seeing increases prior to ending their shutdowns.

So, according to my friend, as long as the numbers in the state stay steady, and people tend to their  personal hygiene- washing hands, wearing masks, distancing- August should be fine. September/October is the beginning of the flu season, which could complicate the Coronavirus.

Lifting the Blackout?

A statement from Mark Miles today said the local television blackout will not be lifted for the race. Why not. They are asking people to stay home then telling them they can’t watch the race until evening? This is a very bad PR move. If the blackout was lifted in 2016 because the track couldn’t sell any more tickets, how is this situation different? The tickets are capped, and although some fans aren’t coming there may be others who want to. I hope the Speedway and Indycar reconsider this decision. If the blackout is lifted it may figure in my decision as to whether or not I watch the race in person.