SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Indianapolis 500 is just 65 days away and, unlike last year, it's looking like “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” will have spectators.
Organizers are hopeful that for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 they'll be able to throw it into reverse and enjoy the race like they have every year up until the pandemic hit in 2020, emptying the stands of fans.
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"We are hoping to be optimistic. I am a fan of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine.
Caine plays a key role in any decision to open the track to fans.
"If we are looking at our numbers and how they are trending, I believe we will have fans at the Indy 500," she explained.
Marion County is recording about 100 new COVID-19 cases a day, down from a peak of 950 in December.
The seven-day positivity test rate is hovering below 3% after hitting a high of 23% last year.
More than 120,000 residents are fully vaccinated and that number goes up every day.
Speedway owner Roger Penske said he wants to see 250,000 fans at this year's race.
Although she's optimistic at this point, Caine said it may be difficult for the health department to say what the capacity will be.
They'll be analyzing whether social distancing, masks, and other precautions slowed the spread of COVID-19 and whether large crowds caused an increase in positive cases.
The supply and demand of the vaccine are also part of the equation.
All of these factors affect more than the race, according to Mayor Joe Hogsett. The city will also be assessing the return of summer conventions, programs, and events.
How well Indianapolis weathers March Madness will likely be a determining factor in how quickly the city, and its beloved race, are able to get back to normal.