Indianapolis Motor Speedway enacts safety protocols ahead of Indianapolis 500


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30.

Nicholas Rasmusson, Sports Editor

     When the month of May begins, one event stands out in Indianapolis: the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) will welcome fans back for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” after having no attendees in 2020. That being said, IMS has integrated multiple different safety protocols to protect spectators and team personnel.

     Two safety protocols that will be implemented by IMS is that they will take everyone’s temperature before allowing entry as well as giving everyone a complementary mask. Masks are required to be worn at all times unless one is eating or drinking. If someone has a fever or shows any COVID symptoms, they will be denied access to the track. This was a must for IMS, as they want to maintain the safety of those present at the track.

     IMS will also have a limited capacity, at 40% or roughly 135,000 fans. In addition to this, there will be no general admission on race day, and no infield seating will be utilized. These factors will make tickets much harder to come by and most certainly will be more expensive, but the benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. At this capacity, IMS absolutely will be able to assure social distancing between spectators.

     With infield seating and general admission being suspended for the year, this means that the famous “snake pit” will also be cancelled. The snake pit is an area on the infield where people ages 21+ can go to party and listen to live music during the running of the Indianapolis 500. This was essential for IMS to cancel because the snake pit is typically body to body, and there would be no way to enforce their mask mandate nor social distancing.

     Another big change IMS integrated for 2021 involved garage access. Bronze and Silver Badges will still be available for purchase, but junior passes will not. Bronze and Silver Badges are available to anyone 18+, and, in a typical year, junior passes would be available for individuals between the ages of nine and 17. Unfortunately, this means that minors will be unable to enter the garages.

     Despite having possession of their badge, Bronze and Silver Badge holders must meet one more requirement before being granted access to the garages. Holders of either badge must have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. This move was genius because it provides another layer of protection for the drivers and other team personnel. IMS has announced that individuals who have already purchased Bronze or Silver Badges that have not received the vaccine or do not want the vaccine can turn their badge in for credit at IMS.

     Even though this year’s Indianapolis 500 will be different from others, it is great that they are returning to a more normal atmosphere after last year’s running. The GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis is on May 15, and the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is on May 30, and tickets are on sale for both.