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Look for Your Blue Envelopes! Ticket Mailing Starts for 103rd Indianapolis 500

Green and checkered arguably are the favorite color schemes of any Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge enthusiast, but fans also should look out for another one of their preferred hues very soon.

The initial ticket mailing – sent in the famous light-blue envelopes from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ticket Office – started today for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26.

Federal postal inspectors come to IMS with a large truck for the first mailing, and many IMS employees pitch in to help load the truck. NTT IndyCar Series driver Zach Veach of Andretti Autosport also helped load tickets for mailing Monday.

It takes approximately nine to 10 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 a computerized system administered by the IMS Information Services department ensure 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 and more than 180,000 products (includes Race Day tickets, parking, concert tickets, etc.)
  • Number of blue envelopes sent: More than 26,000
  • Number of U.S. Postal Service trays to accommodate envelopes: More than 500
  • Weight of all ticket envelopes and trays in first mailing: More than 4,250 pounds
  • Geographic distribution: All 50 American states, the District of Columbia and 35 countries, including the U.S.
  • Hours needed to fill envelopes by hand: More than 800 person-hours
  • Number of IMS employees who fill envelopes: 38

The return of two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso and the arrival of rookies Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist have sparked a large uptick in ticket orders from Spain and Sweden, respectively, compared to 2018. Twelve times as many orders will be mailed to Spain this week to fans eager to see Alonso, while more than five times as many Swedes have ordered “500” tickets this year to see countrymen Ericsson and Rosenqvist.

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 Brickyard 400 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 400 envelopes purple, and ticket envelopes for other IMS events, such as the United States Grand Prix Formula One race or Indianapolis GP MotoGP race, use a variety of colors, including red, cream and green.

Tickets for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 26 and the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 are available at IMS.com.

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