SPEEDWAY, Ind. — This is the weekend Indy 500 fans have been waiting for, after pandemic restrictions kept the grandstands closed for last year's race.
Fans will be back this Sunday, but only 40 percent of the usual crowd will be allowed through the gates.
Fans should plan on wearing a face mask - even if they’ve been vaccinated - and be ready to have their temperature checked.
In the meantime, there’s been some fun leading up to Race Day, like a cornhole match with some Indy 500 drivers and team owners on Main Street in Speedway. It's a fundraiser for Gigi’s Playhouse Indianapolis, which serves people with Down syndrome and their families.
“People are actually getting to have beers and socialize and do it for a good cause as well,” said George Steinbrenner IV with Harding Steinbrenner Racing.
And on the eve of Carb Day, drivers and team owners say they're glad to know fans will be in the stands this year.
“Even though we’re not at 100 percent, even that 40 percent is going to be a huge breath of fresh air,” said Steinbrenner.
Fans are glad to be back.
“Just being able to go to the track, that’s a great feeling too,” said racing fan Stephen Dietzer.
Unlike years past, there won’t be infield parking this year. Fans who had it can choose a replacement location or use a credit for a future IMS event.
In the stands, there will be spacing between fan groups, two seats on the right and left. There will also be spacing in the concession areas, along with hand sanitizer and handwashing stations for fans.
And you can still bring your cooler, as long as it meets the size requirement.
As much as fans come out for the race, they also come out for the concerts. There’s usually a Turn 4 stage for concerts on Carb Day and Legends Day, but that’s not the case this year. It’s the same story for the Snake Pit in Turn Three. That concert’s a no-go too this year. All of it, certainly not what fans are used to during 500 Weekend.
“It is disappointing, but Main Street is having 'Rockin’ on Main Street,' and that’s what we’re going to do,” said fan Mary Wilerson.
Fans are just happy there’ll be some spectators this year for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
“Definitely looking forward to this year, the cars being close and making those memories with all the friends,” said Dietzer.