IMS lifts Indy 500 blackout, will air race live on TV

The Indianapolis 500 will air live on television in central Indiana on Sunday, the Indianapolis the Motor Speedway announced Thursday.

The track said on Twitter that it was lifting the blackout after selling 135,000 tickets, which is its capacity limit under COVID-19 restrictions.

“With no more tickets available and 40% of venue capacity reached, we have decided to lift the local broadcast delay for this year’s race,” IMS tweeted.

The race is to be broadcast on the local NBC affiliate, WTHR-TV, Channel 13, with pre-race activities starting at 11 a.m.

Typically, the TV broadcast is blacked out locally—unless the race is considered a sell-out in advance. But that’s rare, given that the infield can hold thousands of people in addition to those who buy tickets for seats.

This year, only fans with seats will be allowed, and the track could only sell 40% of the seats.

IMS also lifted the blackout last years when pandemic restrictions prevented any fans from attending the race, which was held in August, rather than the Memorial Day weekend for the first time in its 104 runnings.

NBC averaged 3.67 million viewers and a 2.3 rating for the 2020 race, won by Takuma Sato. It was the lowest rating and viewership in the history of the storied race, despite IMS lifting the local TV restriction.

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10 thoughts on “IMS lifts Indy 500 blackout, will air race live on TV

    1. Like you would really have to wear mask…would you get locked up if it wasn’t covering your pursed lips?

    2. They are rarely going to enforce the mask rule. All you have to do is say you’re eating or drinking.

    3. I am guessing you didn’t watch any live track coverage this past week. Every shot of the stands showed maybe 10% of what fans were there, wearing masks.

  1. Good PR move by Penske & Company….and they’ll still make money selling the live-stream video production rights.

    The ticket resellers are likely in seventh heaven this year for the first time in many years for those who still want to attend the race in person.

  2. Am glad for TV coverage for all the fans who couldn’t get tickets this year or who gave up seats until more are vaccinated. I’m vaccinated and will cheerfully wear a mask to watch every lap in person, cheer on favorite drivers, and enjoy all the upgrades Roger Penske has made to the track. There’s nothing else in sports as great as the Indy 500.