Sting Ray Robb J. Douglas Boles Felix Rosenqvist

Indianapolis 500 fans will watch their mailboxes after the highly anticipated blue envelopes featuring Race Day tickets were mailed Tuesday, March 12 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office.

AJ Foyt Racing’s Sting Ray Robb and Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist were on hand to assist with the initial mailing, which included shipments to all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 36 countries around the world as race fans eagerly await the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26.

“This is really cool,” Robb said. “It’s the start of what we dream about during our offseason, and it feels like it’s becoming real as we approach the Month of May.

“It’s really cool to see physical tickets still going out to the fans because you see people who have been coming to the track for 50, 60, 70 years for the ‘500,’ and they probably still have some of those tickets laying around. We’re continuing that history here today.”

Rosenqvist and Robb also took time to write notes and signatures on a few envelopes, with Rosenqvist’s special messages going to ticket buyers from his native Sweden.

“It’s cool to give a little message to some select fans back home,” Rosenqvist said. “It gives you a perspective of what we are doing. It’s so cool that people are coming from all around the world to watch this race. It means so much to me. I actually live here in Indy now, and the Indy 500 is both the greatest race in the world and my home race, but the fact that people are coming from my home country to watch, it gives you an idea how big it is.”

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 190,000 items (includes 160,000 Indy 500 Race Day tickets, parking, qualification and practice tickets, concert tickets, etc.)
  • Number of blue envelopes sent: More than 26,000
  • 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 5,300 pounds
  • Hours needed to fill envelopes by hand: More than 800 person-hours
  • Number of working days to package envelopes: 48
  • Number of Penske Entertainment employees who fill envelopes: 48
  • Number of states distributed: 50
  • Number of countries distributed: 36 (including United States)

Federal postal inspectors came to IMS with a large truck for the first mailing. Robb and Rosenqvist joined several IMS employees in helping to load the trucks.

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, Sonsio 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 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26, the Sonsio Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 and all other Month of May events are available at or via the IMS Ticket Office at 317-492-6700.