INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis 500 welcomed back 135,000 fans Sunday, the most at any sports event in the world since the pandemic began 18 months ago.
The number represents 40% of the speedway's capacity and was agreed upon by health officials.
They say "practice makes perfect" and for the 105th running of the Indy 500 that seems to be the case.
The GMR Grand Prix served as a practice lap for the Indy 500. About 25,000 fans attended the Grand Prix compared to the 135,000 fans that were expected on May 30th.
To keep everyone safe, the track added extra safety protocols, including spacing between fans in the stands. Cleaning and sanitation processes were also in place with hand sanitizer stations available. All concession stands and merchandise locations were cashless this year. Plus, vaccine clinics were offered at first aid stations throughout the track—something that Indianapolis Motor Speedway planned to continue throughout the month of May.
When the Grand Prix was all said and done, Rinus Veekay had taken home his first-ever IndyCar win.
But, VeeKay wasn't the only one to win at the Grand Prix. In a way, Indy 500 fans won too. IMS called the Grand Prix a success and waved the green flag for the Indy 500 to start in two weeks.
This year's "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" had spectators, 135,000 of them to be exact.
Indy 500 fans arrived early Sunday and were ready to party. Most had no concerns about COVID-19.
Fans at the 2021 Indianapolis 500
From the pandemic's perspective, this event was massive.
A year ago, no fans were allowed for the race that was delayed from May to August. This year, celebrities were back and fans were everywhere.
"This Is Us" actor Milo Ventimiglia waved the green flag Sunday, May 30 to start the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
Before the race began, the three-time Emmy nominee spoke with 13News anchors Scott Swan and Anne Marie Tiernon.
Fans watched from the stands as Hélio Castroneves took the lead with two laps to go and shared his victory when he became a four-time Indy 500 winner Sunday.
His previous Indy 500 wins were in 2001, 2002 and 2009. Only three other drivers have won the Indy 500 four times: A. J. Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears.