SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — As big events are being canceled left and right due to the coronavirus pandemic, some people are celebrating the small victories. But with this year’s Indianapolis 500, there may be more to celebrate than it seems.
Events surrounding the Indy 500 are now canceled and the crowd size for race day has been reduced to 25%. Speedway’s big day is getting smaller and smaller as the pandemic continues to impact Hoosiers.
“It’s kind of like Christmas in Speedway, is the 500 for us,” Big Woods restaurant manager Corinne Koller said.
Those in Speedway aren’t letting the news of the race changes get them down. In fact, some say it’s the best move if it’s helping keep the public safe.
“This street here, this is Main Street, it would be covered with people going in and out of all the shops and restaurants,” Danny Williams said. “So it’s going to impact them greatly, but it’s better than nothing.”
The track may look a little empty, but race fans still expect the streets outside to be full.
“You’ll have people stay home and at least have the parties,” race fan Scott Gauger said. “But I think you’ll have a lot of people show up just for the atmosphere. Even if they don’t go in, they just still got to have it in their blood.”
Just like the original date of the 500 in May, many people will be around the track. To be in Speedway, next to the speedway, is an experience of its own. With the broadcast blackout lifted, now fans can even watch the race live in Speedway without a ticket.
“I think the only reaction so far is excitement!” Koller said.
The staff at Big Woods is expecting to see just as many people as a normal race day with people dropping in to watch the race live at their bar.
“You know, from the minute we open our doors, we are going to be ready to go,” Koller said. “To serve our guests. To have them here. We are so excited that they’ll be in Speedway and we’re very fortunate to still be a part of the 500 race. I think we prepare for it all year and pandemic or not, we’ve still been preparing. We are so excited.”
The people of Speedway say the race will probably have a smaller crowd, but that doesn’t mean visitors and locals can’t enjoy what Speedway has to offer as race day approaches.
“I would love to see all the race fans have huge parties at their homes and just really enjoy it with their friends and support the Indy 500 because we’re lucky to even be able to run it,” Gauger said.
Some say they hope after this year’s hopeful success, they want to see the largest crowd yet show up to celebrate in 2021.