INDIANAPOLIS – NTT IndyCar Series officials confirmed Wednesday morning that the usual local television blackout for the Indianapolis 500 will be lifted for this year’s 104th running, as part of a lengthy health plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Miles, the President & CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp., noted that this year’s race airing live in Indianapolis on WTHR – the area’s NBC affiliate – will allow more Hoosiers to watch in real-time from their homes.
“Everything will be different about this year’s race, from the reduced crowd size, to a new distanced seating arrangement, to mandatory masks and a live broadcast throughout Central Indiana,” Miles said. “We will welcome fans to the ‘500’ based on a highly detailed, careful plan that was developed in collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”
Traditionally, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing is subject to a local television blackout, an effort to get more fans in the area to attend the race in person. That has been common practice for every Indianapolis 500 since 1951.
The lone time the blackout was lifted prior to this year’s running of the race was in 2016, when a sold-out crowd and the special occasion of the 100th edition of the Indianapolis 500 led to the decision to open the broadcast up for local fans.
This year’s Indianapolis 500 was shifted from its traditional late-May slot to mid-August due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be run in front of a roughly 25-percent capacity crowd.