In the depths of summer on Aug. 19, 1909, the first auto race was held at Indianapolis Speedway, a 2.5-mile (4 km) oval circuit. Two years later both the date and the name were changed.

In 1911, the auto race became known as the Indianapolis 500 and was held on May 30.

The annual race, which is held every Sunday before Memorial Day has been rescheduled this year due to COVID-19. This year marks the 104th Indianapolis 500 and will be presented by Gainbridge.

Officials from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a detailed 88-page plan they put in place to welcome the estimated 25 percent of capacity crowd expected to attend. But on August 4, with COVIID-19 still raging, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway reversed course and announced that the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Aug. 23 without fans.

Consequently, 2020 becomes the first time in the race’s 109-year history fans won’t be in the grandstands around the 2.5-mile oval to watch the race live.

“As dedicated as we were to running the race this year with 25 percent attendance at our large outdoor facility, even with meaningful and careful precautions implemented by the city and state, the COVID-19 trends in Marion County and Indiana have worsened,” according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcement. “Since our June 26 announcement, the number of cases in Marion County has tripled while the positivity rate has doubled. We said from the beginning of the pandemic we would put the health and safety of our community first, and while hosting spectators at a limited capacity with our robust plan in place was appropriate in late June, it is not the right path forward based on the current environment.

“We encourage Hoosiers to continue making smart decisions and following the advice of our public health officials so we can help get Indiana back on track.

“Penske Corporation made a long-term investment to be the steward of this legendary facility. While we were very excited to showcase the investments and enhancements we have made in the guest experience, we know we have reached the right decision. As much as Roger Penske and everyone associated with the ‘500’ wanted to race with fans this year, we ultimately reached this conclusion in partnership with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis.

“Our commitment to the Speedway is unwavering, and we will continue to invest in the Racing Capital of the World. We encourage everyone to watch this year’s race on NBC, and we look forward to welcoming our loyal fans back to ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ on May 30th of 2021.”

Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. president & CEO, also announced that this year’s race will air live in Indianapolis on NBC, allowing more Hoosiers — and race fans around the country — to watch in real-time from their homes.

The 104th Running of the Indy 500 will take place Sunday, Aug. 23, with national coverage beginning on NBC at 1 p.m. ET.

Image Sources

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Pixaby