Roger Penske, the new owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has changed his mind and will not allow fans at the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 when it takes place August 23. Penske had been on record saying he wouldn’t hold the 500 in 2020 without fans in the stands, but he’s pivoted to the fan ban that he told the Associated Press is “the toughest business decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
“We didn’t buy the Speedway for one year, we bought it for generations to come, and it’s important to our reputation to do the right thing,” Penske said.
2020 was set to be a special year for racing at Indy where Penske, 83, has spent $15 million upgrading the facility, including new urinal troughs to keep the character of the place. There are 30 new video boards that will have to wait to be used (hopefully) when fans can return in May 2021. Verizon even came in and added 5G service. And Penske had the place painted to the tune of 4,000 tons of paint.
But the COVID situation in Marion County, Indiana got to the point where Roger had to pull the plug. IU Health, an IMS partner, said it opposed fans attending this year and that was it for fans in 2020.
“Look, this is a long-term investment for us for many generations to come,” he said. “We will continue to improve the speedway, the competitors will get to see it over the next two weeks and we believe this decision now regarding the 500 is in the best interest of protecting the 500 for the future.”