The Indianapolis 500 will return with a roar this Memorial Day weekend, as the event expects to host the biggest crowd at a sporting event since the pandemic’s start. Bob Donaldson has more.
– Well, this Memorial Day weekend marks a return to tradition in Indianapolis. The Indy 500 will become the biggest crowd– will host the biggest crowd at a sporting event since the start of the pandemic.
Bob Donaldson, of our CBS affiliate, WTTV in Indianapolis, is at the Speedway.
The iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been eerily quiet through the pandemic. The Indy 500 was postponed last Memorial Day weekend. And the race was run without fans last August.
But as the nation recovers from COVID, so too does the legendary Speedway.
– I love this place, I miss this place.
BOB DONALDSON: Fans have returned to what they call the Brickyard this year. Though some things have changed.
So-called mask ambassadors circulate in the stands, trying in vain often to get fans to comply with local masking requirements still in place here.
135,000 fans will watch the race in person. That’s 40% of the tracks capacity, and enough, Speedway officials say, to maintain social distance.
DOUG BOLES: As you’re coming in, and as you’re standing in concession stands, and going to restrooms, we’re trying to keep people distanced as much as possible. So you will see signage everywhere.
BOB DONALDSON: But not all the changes at the Speedway are pandemic-related this year. For the first time a female dominated team will line up on the starting grid for a chance to make history.
Simona de Silvestro will lead the Paretta autosport team supported by a crew made up of almost entirely women, a first in this male-dominated sport.
ANDRA BUZATU: It’s so cool to be working alongside other women who are so driven to do what you love to do.
We are giving J&J vaccines today.
BOB DONALDSON: But the vaccine clinic right there on the Speedway infield provides a stark reminder that this will be an Indy 500 unlike any other.
– I love the atmosphere.
BOB DONALDSON: One that race organizers hope provides one more landmark in the race to normalcy.
For CBS News, I’m Bob Donaldson in Indianapolis.