The countdown to the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge reached another special moment as the highly anticipated blue envelopes featuring Race Day tickets were mailed Wednesday, March 8 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office.
The initial ticket mailing also received some assistance as Arrow McLaren teammates Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, who finished second and fourth, respectively, in last year’s edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” were part of the festivities of shipping more than 150,000 tickets. The shipments extend to all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 35 countries around the world as race fans eagerly await Indy 500 Race Day on Sunday, May 28.
Both O’Ward and Rosenqvist also signed, sealed and sent a couple of envelopes to lucky fans that will set out for their respective homelands of Mexico and Sweden.
“I had no idea the process that it was for the physical tickets to get mailed,” said O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. “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.”
It takes approximately nine weeks to package all pre-ordered tickets for mailing, from orders the day after the previous year’s race up to current orders. Hard work from employees in the Ticket Office and other Penske Entertainment Corp. departments ensures the ticketing process runs smoothly and on schedule.
A few facts and figures about this year’s initial ticket mailing:
- Number of tickets sent: More than 150,000 Race Day tickets (includes Race Day tickets, parking, concert tickets, etc.)
- Number of blue envelopes sent: More than 25,000
- Number of U.S. Postal Service trays to accommodate envelopes: More than 580
- 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 Penske Entertainment employees who fill envelopes: 43
- Number of states distributed: 50
- Number of countries distributed: 35 (including the United States)
Federal postal inspectors came to IMS with a large truck for the first mailing. O’Ward and Rosenqvist joined several IMS employees in helping load the trucks.
"Oh, it's the most physical labor I've done in a while," said a smiling Rosenqvist, driver of the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. "It's pretty awesome. It's a lot of tickets. When you go into that room, you're like, 'Wow.' It gives you perspective on what a big event the Indy 500 is.
“It's pretty cool to put a little personal touch to some of the envelopes and just being here with everyone from IMS just 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."
Receiving an eagerly awaited blue envelope in the mail is a rite of spring for thousands of fans of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” But why are the envelopes blue?
In the 1970s, Indianapolis 500 tickets were mailed in brown envelopes with the IMS return address in the upper left corner. In the 1980s, a heavier-stock, gray-colored envelope was introduced to mail the tickets, with just the IMS Post Office box number in the upper left corner. A computerized printer also was used for the first time in the 1980s to print ticket customers’ name and address on each envelope.
When the NASCAR Cup Series was added to the IMS schedule in 1994, the Ticket Office needed a way to distinguish between the envelopes containing tickets for the Indianapolis 500 and the annual NASCAR race, especially if the Postal Service returned the envelope as non-deliverable.
So, the IMS Ticket Office decided to color-code the ticket envelopes for each event. Indianapolis 500 ticket envelopes became blue, Brickyard Weekend envelopes became purple, GMR Grand Prix envelopes became green, and ticket envelopes for other IMS events use a variety of colors, including red, cream, gray and yellow.
Tickets for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 28, the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 13 and all other Month of May events are available at IMS.com/Tickets or via the IMS Ticket Office at 317-492-6700.