-- INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Wednesday morning that it has cut off sales of general admission tickets to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, making the event a total sellout.
IMS revealed May 6 that all reserved seats for the race had been sold for the first time in at least 20 years. Stronger-than-anticipated demand for general admission tickets for the spectator mounds that line the infield of the 2.5-mile oval prompted the track to end sales four days before Sunday's race (noon ET, ABC/WatchESPN).
With the event declared a total sellout, the local blackout on the live broadcast of the race will be lifted for the first time since ABC began live coverage in 1965.
"There's no event in the world like the Indy 500, and this sellout is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the thrilling racing of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the bright future for both," said Mark Miles, CEO of track owner Hulman & Company.
"This unexpected development surprised us."
The crowd for Sunday's race is expected to be more than 300,000 people. Miles said the number of people expected to attend this year's race is "70,000 to 100,000 more than last year."
IMS, which is privately owned and does not release attendance figures or the venue's seating capacity, has been vague about when the race last sold out, saying only that it was "more than two decades ago."
It is believed that the facility has around 225,000 permanent seats. The Indianapolis 500 routinely sold out for decades, but the Indy car racing "split" of 1996 that broke the sport into two series for more than a decade caused the race's attendance to decline.
Attendance has been on the rebound since the unification of the IndyCar Series in 2008, and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 has provided a much bigger spike this year than officials predicted.
"It's fair to say a lot of people thought we might sell out the reserved seats," Miles said. "But I don't think people anticipated getting to the place where we would have to say we really should not sell any more infield general admission tickets.
"We need to make sure those people have a great experience and make sure they want to come back."