HARVEST GRAND PRIX
Friday, October 2, 2020
Fans have not been allowed into IMS all year until
10,000 fans are being allowed in, distributed in the
NW or SW outside areas of the track. Social
distancing is required. No fans are allowed in the
After listening to my friends grumbling all year about
not being able to attend races, I was surprised when
none wanted to go with me this weekend. So, I went
by myself to witness my first race live in 2020.
I bought $50 reserved tickets for today. They were
excellent seats - the front row in Penthouse E, Box 9.
It was partly sunny today and the temperature was a
little cool, probably in the low 60s.
I headed to the track about 3 pm. I took the interstate
and ended up parking for free on 16th Street, close to
There were several "stations" to go through to get
inside the track:
1. The first person gives you a bag containing a
face mask and a little bottle of hand sanitizer.
2. Another person holds a electronic device to your
forehead to take your temperature, then gives you
a wrist band.
3. Another looks inside your cooler.
4. And finally someone scans your ticket.
They thanked me for coming.
The media has reported prolifically this year that new
owner Roger Penske has spent over $10 million on
enhancing the track. There was a TV monitor on the
outside of the stands facing the patio. The patio had
a checkered pattern - I think that's new. Later, when I
was at my seat, I could see they have painted the
catch fence black. I think it used to be rusty or at
I had hoped to arrive earlier to see the sport cars, but
the National Anthem was being sung as I bought a hot
dog ($5) and then hurried to my seats. I didn't know
what to expect crowd-wise, especially down here on
the south end, where I suspected the crowds would
be less than on the north end.
|The spectators in Stand E
|Improvements include more TV monitors and
the Catch Fence has been painted black.
I stopped in the bathroom first and saw that the urinal
troughs have survived despite Penske's upgrades.
The seats in the E Penthouse are stadium seats, not
benches. The seats automatically flip up if you're not
sitting in them. Many seats were strapped closed so
that they could not be used. Basically they had two
usuable seats, separated by three empty seats. Also,
people were sitting in every other row.
There was a vertical support beam in front of my seats
(Box 9, Seat 9-10, Row A) It didn't present a problem
though, unless I was filming video, panning from the
chicane to the front straight.
I got there just in time. The IndyCars started up and
pulled out for a couple of warm-up laps.
I saw the new Corvette for the first time, as it paced
the field. After the pace lap, the cars came around in
formation and to the green flag.
Being in row A, there is not much room in front of you,
but there is a flat beam that was handy for setting my
beer, binoculars and camcorder on.
The stadium seats won’t stay down unless you put
something heavy on them. Every time I stood up, my
seat cushions would fall out of place. One time, my
Nikon camera fell on the ground as I was setting it on
the chair next to me.
The drivers who I thought would do well did so.
It seemed Newgarden and Herta swapped 1st place
back and forth a lot.
I really enjoyed using my binoculars, especially to
examine the scoring pylon, which was a bit too far
away to read accurately. (I don't like waiting for the
driver positions to slowly scroll across the tops of the
TV monitors. For me, the TV monitor is only good for
seeing replays of wrecks.)
While cars went off track or collided today, these
incidents did not happen within my view. I was able to
see a couple passes though as the cars races away
from me down the main straight.
I brought a candy bar and cashews to munch on
during the race.
I had brought some local beers in 12 oz cans. I began
to get sleepy toward the end. I felt kind of drunk on
the way home too, though I had not drank much. I
later discovered my beers were 8.5% alcohol!
The race was 85 Laps and there were no cautions.
Josef Newgarden won.
If it were rush hour, I would have stopped at a local
pub, but it was just past 6 pm, so I drove home.
There is racing at IMS this weekend, from Thursday to Sunday.
It includes IndyCars, who have a race today and another tomorrow. The race is new.
It has been named the Harvest Grand Prix, in honor of The Harvest Day Classic, an
event held in 1916 at this track.
Also racing this weekend are GT3 & GT4 sports cars. They will run an 8-hour race
on Sunday - the longest sportscar endurance race ever held at IMS.
All series will be racing clockwise on the IMS road course this weekend.
The Coronavirus pandemic first caused all racing around the world to stop in early March.
Then, when races resumed, they were held without spectators. Gradually, some tracks
began letting in limited numbers of fans.
At IMS, the INDY 500 was postponed until August.
At first, they were going to allow spectators to the 500, but limited to 50% capacity.
Then they decided to cut the number back to 25%.
But they ended up not allowing any spectators!
The Indy 500 blackout on local television was lifted though, so I was able to watch it live.
|Is the checkered-pattern in the patio behind the Turn 1 stands new?
|The Penthouse B Crowd (taken from my seat in Penthouse E)
|Takuma Sato finished 18th
driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan
|Alex Palou finished 17th
driving for Dale Coyne w/ Vasser & Sullivan
|Helio Castroneves finished 20th
filling in for injured Oliver Askew at McLaren
|Simon Pagenaud finished 16th
driving for Team Penske
|Scott Dixon finished 9th
driving for Chip Ganassi
|Marcus Ericsson finished 10th
driving for Chip Ganassi
|Felix Rosenqvist finished 5th
driving for Chip Ganassi
|Max Chilton finished 11th
driving for Carlin
|Santino Ferrucci finished 15th
driving for Dale Coyne Racing
|Winning Driver Josef Newgarden for Team Penske
in the pit lane entrance after the race was over.
|Turn 14 - Re-entering the Oval Track
August 23 - I went to my friend's house in the country
to watch the Indy 500. The race was being run at
2 p.m. instead of noon.
I hurried to get there before the start. On the way, I
listened to the IndyCar channel on the XM radio. I
heard the invocation, and taps as I neared his house.
It was like my usual race day - hurrying along with
my cooler, hearing pre-race ceremonies as I rushed
to my seat.
I got down to BW's in time to see the fly-over on his
He had setup a fan, a smoker grill and a TV out on his
Though the temperature would rise into the 80s, it
was shady all day on his patio and we stayed cool
He had started his smoker grill hours earlier and was
cooking chicken drumsticks, pork ribs and pork loin.
Joy made a good salad and baked beans. Soon we
were chowing down to delicious food. Later, Julia
showed up and made more food. Alaina showed up
and joined us on the patio.
The TV didn’t have a remote, so during commercials,
I would get up and lower the volume while Joy turned
up the IMS Radio Network on a radio.
Due to the pandemic, I had been sitting alone at
home for six months. It was really nice to get out
and talk to people!
The race was good and exciting!
After it was over, BW and I travelled 5 miles over
rolling countryside toward a patch of woods he
recently purchased, riding in his ATV XBX. It was
a scenic ride, interspersed with woods and fields.
I saw rolled bales of hay on picturesque hillsides.
We crossed several creeks.
At his property, the ATV showed it's prowess as we
drove up and down steep gullies that looked
impassable to me. We got back to his house at 9 pm
and I had to head home to feed my dogs.
It was an excellent day!
Takuma Sato won his
2nd Indy 500 in a tough
battle with Scott Dixon.
|How I Saw the 2020 Indianapolis 500