If IndyCar fans are gun-shy about the coronavirus, they’re not showing it in St. Petersburg or Indianapolis at the moment.
Penske Entertainment president Mark Miles said ticket sales at both races are ahead of last year’s pace, and this weekend’s season-opener this weekend is full speed ahead.
“I just hung up with Kevin Savoree (co-promoter of St. Pete, Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Portland) and he’s delighted with ticket sales and the attitude in general,” said Miles. “They had a big volunteer meeting over the weekend, and a great turnout, and everyone is raring to go. Right now we don’t see any changing of schedule or plans.
“The autograph session is still a go for Friday, and right now the reaction of race fans seems very strong and positive. Roger (Penske) just got back from Amelia Island in Florida where they had 25,000 people, and there were no problems.”
Which is not to say IndyCar, its promoters and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway aren’t taking every precaution.
“Kevin and Kim [Green] are working with the city and other public officials to monitor the situation,” continued Miles. “They’re putting hand-washing stations all around the circuit, message boards to remind people about personal hygiene, and some PA announcements will be made.
“We’re staying in close touch with ZOOM (promoters at Alabama), Jim Michaelian at Long Beach and Bobby Epstein at COTA, and they’ve all got the same mindset. Take care of business and help people with suggested personal hygiene as suggested by the CDC (Center for Disease Control).”
As for the 104th Indianapolis 500, Miles says ticket sales are ahead of 2019 and IMS intends to implement the same precautions being used at St. Pete.
“We had a call this morning with the Pacers, Colts, Indiana Sports Corp, CIB, Visit Indy, the Mayor and Chief of Staff, and everyone is staying in touch and learning from each other,” he said. “It’s a good process, and we’re working together to stay nimble.”
And at least one group of IndyCar fans are undaunted about traveling to Florida.
“We take our big customers that rent suites to St. Pete every year and they’ve been calling every day to make sure we’re still going,” said Miles. “If they’re concerned, they’re not showing it. They want to go racing.”