MOUNT COMFORT, Ind. (WISH) — For 11 months out of the year, Ken Eckstein lives a normal life.
But, all of that changes during May when he becomes one of the most-popular people in Indianapolis and the IndyCar racing circuit.
Ken and Rusty Eckstein are the general managers of Mount Comfort RV, which sits just 20 miles east of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Hancock County.
The Eckstein family helps fit IndyCar drivers with a home — even if it’s motor — at the track during May.
Rusty said it’s amazing how many drivers have his phone number and call him during May to borrow a motor home.
“It’s a big opportunity because these are professional athletes that are traveling the world, doing what they love and coming to Indiana,” Rusty said. “It’s like they need a place to stay for the week, and/or three weeks actually, and where better to stay than in a nice motor home?”
Setting up camp at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has become a tradition, and every team has a different use for their home away from home.
“Some of them, for some, it’s a hospitality room, and they’ll want something big and flashy that they can show off and maybe even solicit new sponsors in,” Ken said. “Other people’s a place for their family to hide without being in front of the masses, and so they have these little cocoons that are set up out there. And for some people, it’s a necessity because this is where they live for three weeks.”
Sam Schmidt, former driver and now co-owner of the Arrow McLarren team, said having a motor home at the track makes a huge difference in his mental stamina to get through the three weeks of May.
The Eckstein family went as far as to set Schmidt, who was left a quadriplegic after an accident during the 2000 season, up with a handicap-accessible recreational vehicle.
“We worked together to design a wheelchair-accessible coach that was fairly universal in nature for not only me but for really any kind of disability,” Schmidt said. “Ken and Rusty have been very versed on what people need, with special needs.”
The Indianapolis 500 will be May 30 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with 40% capacity due to the cornavirus pandemic. All concerts before and on race day have been canceled due to the pandemic.