By Frank Santoroski, Staff Writer
A word to the wise, if you haven’t purchased your tickets for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, get your order in soon.
As reported in the Indianapolis Star, tickets are moving at a brisk rate, and Speedway officials are optimistic that the event will see the first sell-out crowd since the pre-split era. Reserved ticket sales have already surpassed the mark set last year, with more than two months remaining before the event.
The numbers will not top the crowd in 1995 due to modifications to the seating. The terrace grandstands that once occupied the areas inside the turns have long since been removed. The turn two terrace went away in 1998 for construction of the infield road course. Three and four were retired in 2004, being deemed unnecessary, and the first turn terrace was removed in 2008 to allow for further modifications to the road course.
Despite the reduction in permanent seats over the years, the Speedway still boasts over 235,000 seats. Additionally, general admission viewing areas boost the total capacity to nearly 400,000 making it the largest sporting venue on the planet.
Both Hulman and Co. CEO, Mark Miles, and Speedway President, Doug Boles, are confident that all 235,000 reserved seats will be sold in the coming weeks. With all of the suites currently spoken for as well, plans are underway to construct another dozen temporary suites to accommodate the demand.
The third turn Snake Pit area is also expected to surpass the reported number of 20,000 set in 2015.
All of this bodes well for the Verizon IndyCar Series that has seen television ratings on the upswing in recent years. The historic nature of the 100th running at Indy will undoubtedly draw a great deal of International attention, bringing the Series a fantastic opportunity to capture new fans and continue to grow.
Miles is also confident that fears of a light field are unfounded. With Honda and Chevrolet both willing to provide engines for up to eighteen cars apiece, its just a matter of finalizing all of the deals.
A.J. Foyt Racing recently announced Alex Tagliani for their third car, while J.R. Hildebrand was confirmed at Ed Carpenter Racing.
Expect several more driver and team announcements over the next few weeks as the Month of May draws closer.
Pippa Mann will most certainly be returning in her familiar pink ‘Susan G. Komen for the Cure’ entry with Dale Coyne, as will privateer Buddy Lazier. Katherine Legge and Grace Autosport are said to be close to finalizing their plans as well, possibly with Carlin Motorsports, looking to move up from Indy Lights.
Among the drivers still looking to put a deal together are Gabby Chaves, Simona de Silvestro, and Oriol Servia.
Hulman and Co. have assisted in the past to ensure the car count, and are ready and willing to do so again if necessary. When the green flag waves on May 29, we should fully expect to see 33 starters. Miles has all but guaranteed it.
Tickets for both the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Presented by PennGrade Motor Oil and the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis are available at www.imstix.com