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Speedway packed with fans as 2023 Indy 500 weekend begins

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — The parking lots around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were nearly full Friday, 48 hours before the start of the Indianapolis 500.

Bob Smith and Ray Stem arrived late Wednesday night from New Jersey and are camping out just west of the track. “This is $95, the hotel is $300 for Saturday night, and if you don’t stay at the track, you don’t get the full experience,” said Stem.

That experience includes hotdogs, hamburgers, booze, and seats next to pit road.

“What, it’s the 107th (race)? If something lasts 107 years, it’s a big deal. You can’t beat this and the weather is beautiful this weekend,” said Smith.

Race weekend isn’t just about racing. The Town of Speedway’s Rocking on Main coincided with Carb Day at the track.

“There was a car with Maryland plates in front of our house this morning, it’s just neat that everyone kind of comes in for the race every year and they just make a whole weekend of it,” said Kevin Barnhart, a Speedway resident.

While Speedway benefits from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, “Rocking on Main” gives the world a chance to see that the town is more than just about racing.

“About 10 years ago give or take, we prioritized making Main Street an attraction again. It had kind of gone by the wayside, a lot of closures. We worked really hard to get a lot of new restaurants, retailers, bars, even the apartments behind us,” said Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz.

The track is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday for Legends Day. Fans can get autographs from former and current drivers at the event.