The Greatest Spectacle in Racing has been greatly delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but it hasn’t been stopped. The green flag is set to drop on the 104th running of the Indy 500 on August 23, albeit with some necessary changes that are going to make the event look very different than years before.
What’s the Biggest Change to Expect?
Even though the outdoor facility is absolutely massive, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has announced that the race will take place without fans in attendance, due to the growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. That’s a far cry from the 300,000+ spectators that previous years have brought, and the smallest crowd the Indy 500 has seen in over 100 years. Even during the Great Depression, fans still flocked to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the race.
Because the Indianapolis 500 is one of the few races in America that attracts casual viewers from all over the world, Roger Penske, newly established owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, initially said he wouldn’t run the 500 without fans. But as the pandemic continued to spread across the nation, the decision to limit capacity to 50% and later to 25% did not stick. For the first time in the race’s history, fans will not flood into the grandstands around the 2.5-mile track to watch the race live.
Can You Watch the Indy 500 on TV?
Because of the limitations on the event this year, IMS lifted the local television blackout on race day. That means central Indiana residents (and others around the nation) who aren’t able to attend the Indy 500 this year can still catch the entire race from beginning to end on NBC. Coverage will begin at 1 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) — well before the engines start and the green flag goes down at 2:30 p.m.
What About Watching It Online?
If you happen to have cut the cord on your television a while ago, you can stream the race live on NBCSports.com or through the NBC SportsApp.
Where Can You Listen to the Race?
Tune in all weekend long to the sounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, live across the country from these stations:
- The Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network (National)
- SiriusXM – XM 205, Internet 205
- 93.5 & 107.5 FM (Indianapolis)
How Can You See the Flyover?
Many Indianapolis residents will get a view of the flyover as six F-16 Fighting Falcons travel from north to south, passing above the track on their route. The flyover will also be televised as part of NBC’s coverage that begins at 1 p.m.
The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will fly over the track before the start of this year’s Indianapolis 500. Known as “America’s Ambassadors in Blue,” the demonstration squadron will fly in their signature “Delta” formation over a largely-empty Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Whether you plan to watch the race or not, the 104th Running of the Indy 500 is set to be something fans may never forget.