Indy 500 unveils plans for 25 percent fan capacity at Aug. 23 race

The delayed Indianapolis 500 has a plan to be able to host fans up to 25 percent of the venue’s capacity for the Aug. 23 race, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Penske Entertainment Corp., which owns the track.

According to a report in the Indianapolis Star that percentage translates to a crowd of approximately 87,500 people. According to the speedway, fans will be required to wear masks at all times, and fans will be scanned for temperatures on the way in. More details about the attendance plan are expected to be released Wednesday.

“We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles, in the prepared statement.

Also from the statement:

Indy officials have made clear this year’s race will include numerous safety precautions, including the reassignment of seats to provide for greater distancing; the issuance and required use of masks, distribution of hand sanitizer to all who enter; temperature checks in order to enter; and changes throughout the facility to minimize lines and gathering spots, including limiting options from concession stands to mostly pre-packaged foods. Numerous other changes will also be in place.

Verizon hits 20+ TB in cellular traffic for Indy 500 weekend

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

Fans stream into Gasoline Alley at the Indy 500. Credit: Verizon Wireless

As Verizon Wireless expected, fans at the Indianapolis 500 race weekend used more than 20 terabytes of wireless data on the Verizon networks in and around the famed Brickyard track, more than doubling the data used in 2015. Though Verizon had predicted and prepared for the data onslaught, it’s still incredible to think that wireless data use at big events is still doubling every year. How much higher can it go?

For the actual day of this year’s Indy 500 race, Verizon said it saw more than 10 TB of data on its networks; last year on the race day Verizon saw 3.16 TB of data. For the full weekend, the exact total from Verizon was 20.8 TB; last year, the total for the entire weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday events) was more than 9 TB.

According to Verizon, the two highest data usage moments were the start of the race (at 12:19 p.m. local time), followed by another traffic spike at 1:15 p.m., when Juan Pablo Montoya’s car crashed. We haven’t seen an exact attendance number, but various sources said well over 350,000 fans attended this year’s race, the 100th in Indy 500 history.

Verizon doubles down on wireless coverage for Indy 500; expects near 20 TB on race weekend

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

Screen shot of Verizon IndyCar app showing live action.

This year’s Indianapolis 500 is sure to be well-attended, given it’s the 100th running of the grand old race. To make sure fans there have solid wireless connectivity during the event, Verizon Wireless said it basically doubled its capacity from last year, in anticipation of a doubling of data use during the “bucket list” day at the Brickyard.

According to Verizon, last year fans at Indy used more than 9 terabytes of data on Verizon wireless networks during the race weekend, which include the track’s only DAS (distributed antenna system) and some temporary cell sites. For the 2016 race, Verizon said it has installed “100 percent more capacity to the IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway_ track and immediate surrounding area,” including 16 small cell sites around the track’s exterior, replacing some of the need for temporary towers like cells on wheels or cells on trucks.

In addition, Verizon has brought to Indy three “custom-designed” cells-on-a-platform or COPs, each of which “has the capacity equivalent to 7 temporary cell sites known as COWs (cell-on-wheels),” Verizon said.

A "cell on platform," or COP, installed at Indy

A “cell on platform,” or COP, installed at Indy

On race day itself in 2015, Verizon said it saw 3.16 TB of data used on its network, which was more than double to 1.4 TB Verizon saw in 2014. The full weekend of racing from Friday through Sunday’s 100th running of the Indy 500 includes popular events like Carb day on Friday, and a Legends Day and concerts on Saturday.

IndyCar app will use LTE Multicast to show live race views

Verizon customers will also have access to live race feeds via the IndyCar mobile app, which will use LTE Multicast technology to provide one-to-many live video streams over dedicated LTE bandwidth. Verizon said it will have cameras for the feeds installed on “at least” 12 cars in the race, and will have simulataneous broadcast from inside two of the cars. Like with NFL Mobile, Verizon’s exclusive deal with the Indy 500 means that you will need to be a Verizon subscriber to see the live action via the IndyCar app.

Indianapolis Speedway adds Verizon DAS

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. Credit all photos: IMS Photo.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500. Credit all photos: IMS Photo.

It’s still a work in progress, but Verizon Wireless customers who attend this year’s Indianapolis 500 race should see improved cellular communications, thanks to a DAS buildout currently underway.

According to Rhonda Winter, CIO for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Verizon was recently selected to build a neutral-host DAS which will add more than 200 internal and external antennas to the speedway’s main stands and buildings. While other carriers are slated to join the DAS in the future, only Verizon will be on the infrastructure this year. According to Verizon, it will also have two COLTs (cell on light trucks) mobile units at this year’s race, to improve coverage in far-flung areas like the fields of parking that are necessary to host the 250,000 fans who may show up to watch the May 25 event.

Verizon antennas atop Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoreboard.

Verizon antennas atop Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoreboard.

Winter, who responded to questions via email, said Verizon offered “the best solution” when it came to picking a DAS host. The spread-out nature of the huge, 2.5-mile track makes Indy a fairly unique situation when it comes to wireless coverage. Added to the spacing requirements, Winter also noted that the track’s network sees a huge and sudden surge when fans arrive for race day. Among some of the experiments Winter and her staff are trying are some selected uses of public Wi-Fi, this year at special pre-race concert events and also in the VIP areas.

“Coverage and capacity on our busy race days continues to be a challenge that we are working to improve,” Winter wrote.

With the added capacity, Verizon customers should have no problems accessing the Verizon IndyCar Series INDYCAR 14 mobile app, which for Verizon customers only offers live features that include driver and pit crew audio, race radio broadcast coverage, as well as a track map. Winter said there is also an Indianapolis Motor Speedway app called Brickyard Mobile, which is the digital version of the track’s guest guide.

Indy 500 Will be Coming to You via Instagram

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has entered into a deal with social media management company Venueseen to have photos taken at the venerable brickyard to be used in a marketing campaign. As part of the program Venueseen will open its API for the marketing campaign, a possible sign of things to come.

The marketing program, which centers around a sweepstake called Indy500orBust that asks fans to upload photos to Instagram using the hashtag #Indy500orbust. The sweepstakes have not officially been launched and the rules were not up on the site yet but according to a piece in Ad Age the winner of the contest will receive a VIP race experience.

The uploaded images will be given a geotags so that they can be plotted on an interactive map that can be seen at the site. According to the interview at Ad Age that site will be the only place that the photos will be used.

Move comes at a time when users fearful how their store images will be used

No doubt you have heard about Instagram’s change in its Terms of Use that caused a huge outrage among its users a few weeks ago when users were concerned that the photo sharing site was now declaring that it had the right to use all of your photos. A number of prominent users said that they were pulling their images from the site for fear that they would be used in a manner that they did not approve of or because they did not feel that Instagram had a right to profit from their images.

It only took the company one day to recant that position and go back to its older TOU. However there has been a number of stories since that claim that the site has started to lose appreciable numbers of users due to that misstep, claims that Instagram denies.

Be that as it may, this move could reopen that can of worms. Venueseen claims that its open API will enable other developers to tap into the huge photo catalog and use the images for campaigns, claiming that the images are in the public domain.

It is too bad that this fight has to go on because I like what the Indy 500 is doing and think it will be interesting to track fans and see some of their posts. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few months, with the race slated for late May as usual.

Race Day in Dover as NASCAR Readies for FedEx 400

Some very interesting 3-peats last week. I guess technically they were not actual 3-peats but so what? In the Coca-Cola 600 Kasey Kahne won for the third time and it is clear that he really likes this race since on the tour he has only won 13 times. The list of other 3 time winners shows that he is in an impressive group with luminaries such as Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson and Buddy Baker among the six others that have accomplished the feat.

The race was a great day overall for Hendrick Motorsports, which aside from Kahne had an additional 3 cars in the top 11. Filing out the top five was Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Brad Keselowski.

This Week
The FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks will be run at the Dover International Speedway’s monster mile, touted as the world’s fastest one mile oval. Good news for fans that have visited the track’s web site, they now have a mobile app that seems to be speedier than the regular one.

June 3 12:30 pm ET on Fox

Sprint Cup Standings
1) Greg Biffle
2) Matt Kenseth -10
3) Denny Hamlin -16
4) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -18
5) Jimmie Johnson -48

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Nationwide Series
Brad Keselowski skated to a nice win last week in Charlotte, leading the last 67 laps and praying that the gas he got when he fueled up with 73 laps to go would last-it did, making his caution lap decision not to pit pay off.
The top five was filled out by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler. Point’s leader Ricky Stenhouse had mechanical issues and finished 26th while one other widely watched driver, Dancia Patrick disappointed by starting 3rd but finishing 13th.

The 5-Hour Energy 200 is this weekend and they will be racing in just a little over 24 hours of posting this. It should be a fun race as speeds will be high and drivers should be raring to go on this interesting track.

June 2, 2 pm ET ESPN & WatchESPN

Nationwide Standings
1) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2) Elliott Sadler -13
3) Austin Dillon -28
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -57
5) Cole Whitt -94
5) Justin Allgaier -94

Indy 500
Congratulations to Dario Franchitti who won his third Indianapolis 500 in a very intense last lap battle with Takuma Sato, who ended up hitting the wall in a tremendous crash after their tires made contact with each other.