Indy 500 to allow 135,000 fans, 40% capacity, for May 30 race

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Japan's Takuma Sato poses with the Indianapolis 500 trophy after winning the race last August in an event postponed from May due to Covid-19

The Indianapolis 500 will allow up to 135,000 spectators, the largest US sports crowd since the Covid-19 pandemic, for the May 30 race, officials announced Wednesday.

The huge crowd will be only 40% of capacity at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with safety protocols in place at the 2 1/2-mile (4km) oval for the 105th edition of the IndyCar showpiece.

"The city and state have worked with us to identify the appropriate health and safety precautions so that we can successfully host a limited but very enthusiastic crowd," Speedway president J. Douglas Boles said.

"Our fans mean everything to us and we can't wait to welcome them 'Back Home Again' for this year's Indy 500," he added, playing off the song played annually at the race, "Back Home Again in Indiana."

Japan's Takuma Sato will try to defend his 2020 Indy 500 title and capture his third trophy in five seasons at "The Brickyard" even though no one has won back-to-back Indy 500s since Brazil's Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

Face masks will be required for fans and temperature checks will be required for entry. Social distancing will be in place between groups in the grandstands and infield spectator mounds will be closed all month with no general admission race day tickets sold.

Frequent cleaning and sanitation processes will be in place for the race with hand sanitizer and washing stations available throughout the track.

"The health and safety of everyone coming to IMS, along with Central Indiana and the Hoosier State, have been paramount throughout this process," Boles said.

The Speedway will continue to serve as a mass Covid-19 vaccination site from April 24 through May 27, which includes some times when cars will be practicing and qualifying.

Usual concerts staged on race weekend have been canceled.

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