Indy Speedway races on 4 July could have fans under plan

Indianapolis 500 (AFP)
Indianapolis 500 (AFP)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway could become the first major US sports venue since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown to welcome spectators under a plan announced by Indiana governor Eric Holcomb.

A five-stage plan to get Indiana "Back on Track" was unveiled on Friday by Holcomb with a target of having all areas of the state reach the final level, which includes a return to sports events, on 4 July, the American Independence Day holiday.

That Saturday also happens to be the date when the speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500 oval classic, has scheduled an twin bill with IndyCar and US stock car events on its road course.

While social distance guidelines would remain in place in the fifth stage, the plan would allow for spectators in parts of the sprawling stands around the famed 2 1/2-mile (4km) oval.

"Of course, this roadmap is subject to change," Holcomb warned. "New guidance is provided regularly and more is known about this disease every day, so it will be updated along the way."

The virus has forced the speedway to shuffle its normal race schedule, with the 104th Indianapolis 500 shifted from 24 May to 23 August and IndyCar's Grand Prix of Indianapolis shifted from 9 May to 4 July alongside the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event.

IndyCar is scheduled to return 6 June at Fort Worth, Texas, with late-June stops at Road America in Wisconsin and Richmond, Virginia, but no existing plan would allow for spectators to attend as stay-at-home rules remain in effect across most of the United States.

NASCAR has announced plans for four elite-level races and seven in all on tracks in North and South Carolina in May, but all would be run without spectators.

The PGA Tour has scheduled a June return as well, but plans to stage its first four events without spectators. As of now, the first scheduled tournament that could allow fans would be the John Deere Classic on 9-12 July at Silvis, Illinois.

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