Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 4-5 feature races will go off as scheduled, and can be seen on television, but spectators will be banned from attending, the track announced Thursday.
It had been hoped the July 4 IndyCar series race, followed by the 400-mile NASCAR race on July 5, would welcome crowds because the COVID-19 pandemic fifth stage opening plan kicks in for most of Indiana on the fourth.
All social distancing restrictions are scheduled to be lifted under Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan on July 4 for much of the state. However, Marion County, home of the Speedway, is in one of the few locations where the progress has been slower and the opening plan lags.
That is the reason why the Speedway cannot host fans.
"While we certainly worked diligently to run our events with spectators, we reached a point where we needed to make a final decision because the race weekend is less than a month away," said Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp president and CEO in a statement from the track.
"Today, it’s not possible to be confident that Indianapolis will be at Stage 5 of the state’s reopening plan by the Fourth of July weekend."
The Speedway’s signature event, the Indianapolis 500, is always scheduled for Memorial Day weekend and that race was previously postponed to Aug. 23.
The IndyCar-NASCAR back-to-back schedule marks the first time the two series will share the same track on the same weekend. The racing is actually a triple-header. On the Saturday, the GMR Grand Prix for the NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR Xfinity’s Pennzoil 500, are on the calendar.
Sunday, what has been called the Brickyard 400, is scheduled to be run under the sponsor name of the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records. Big Machine plans to donate hand sanitizers to Indianapolis individuals in the front lines of helping to contain the ongoing coronavirus.
Fans who bought tickets for these race events ahead of time will be contacted by the Speedway. They can apply the value of the tickets to the Indy 500 or Harvest Grand Prix in October, or seek refunds.
Other activities originally scheduled as part of the holiday festival, a concert and a USAC Midget race, have been called off. Those who purchased advance tickets will also either be able to apply costs to future Speedway events, or seek refunds.
Speedway officials remain optimistic the 500 will be run in front of fans.
"We remain committed to welcoming the world’s greatest fans to the Speedway for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in late August," Miles said.