INDIANAPOLIS — The countdown to the 107th Indianapolis 500 reached another milestone as the highly anticipated blue envelopes filled with Race Day tickets were mailed March 8.
Inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s administrative building, a team of employees have been working since the last race day to get tickets distributed to the correct racegoers.
“It’s very cool to handle every ticket and package it and know that on race day, you had a hand in helping everybody get to their seat and have a great memorable race,” Kellie Leeman, IMS Sr. Director of Ticket Sales and Service, said. “We have all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as 33 other countries. It’s truly a worldwide event and people have passion for this place. We’re happy to package and get them wherever they live.”
The ticket itself has become a standalone tradition leading up to the race. The defending 500 champion is front and center on each and every one.
“I had no idea the process that it was for the physical tickets to get mailed,” Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, said. “So, for me, it just screams and yells tradition, and the Indy 500 is all about tradition. I'm really happy that I got to do this, and I got to see what it's all about. It's not just a simple email. There's a lot of meaning to that ticket. People collect them. People have them at home. They keep them at home, and I think that's very special.”
According to IMS, it takes nine weeks to package all pre-ordered tickets for mailing, from orders received the day after the previous year’s race to current day orders.
Federal postal inspectors came to IMS with a large truck for the first mailing. O’ward and Felix Rosenqvist, driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, joined IMS employees in helping load the trucks.
"Oh, it's the most physical labor I've done in a while," Rosenqvist said. “It's pretty cool to put a little personal touch to some of the envelopes and just being here with everyone from IMS helping out. Sometimes you take for granted everything behind the scenes, but just a thing like mailing out the tickets is such a huge project, and I'm happy to be part of it. It's cool; 81 days out, we're getting closer."
A few facts about this year’s ticket mailing from IMS:
- Number of tickets sent: More than 150,000 (includes Race Day tickets, parking, concert tickets)
- Number of blue envelopes sent: More than 25,000
- Weight of all ticket envelopes and trays in first mailing: More than 5,000 pounds
- Hours needed to fill envelopes by hand: More than 880 person-hours
- Number of working days to package envelopes: 43
- Number of states distributed: 50.
- Number of countries distributed: 35 (including the United States)