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‘It’s a family reunion’: Speedway homeowners help race fans park for 70 years

Fans park at Speedway home since 1952

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — For 70 years, cars have lined the lawn of the legendary Speedway house at the corner of Winton Avenue and Speedway Drive ahead of the Indianapolis 500.

The house was first built by Robert and Betty Crane in 1952. The parking tradition began that year when Betty set up cots for people to stay for the race and allowed them to park outside their house.

In 1973, the tradition was documented by a local newspaper. The article, titled “Lawn turns into parking spots,” discussed how the lawn allowed people from across the nation to join in on the racing fun.

As the tradition has continued, a number of the same people that parked at the house in the 1970s, continue to park there now.

“We have one gentleman from Pennsylvania that has been coming here since he was 4 or 5 years old,” homeowner Gerri Pagach said. “Now, he’s a grandpa, and he parks his RV in the yard every year.”

The house once owned by Robert and Betty Crane was inherited by their grandson Doug Pagach and his wife Gerri Pagach in 2005.

They’ve kept the tradition alive in every sense.

“As of the 100th running in 2016, we became a sold-out lot,” Gerri said. “People that have parked here for years call us well in advance and say, ‘We want to reserve out spot.’”

The house parks about 24 cars and all spots were sold out in February.

To the couple and their daughter, Kristin Pagach, the people who park at their house have gone on to become an extension of their family. Kristin has celebrated nearly every life milestone around race weekend, including her high school graduation.

Gerri said, “We’ve gone on spring break trips to go out to visit them, and it is definitely a family reunion, a homecoming.”

Although no spots are available for this year’s race, Gerri urged anyone looking for a place to park to visit Speedway Trails Association for options.