SPEEDWAY, Ind. (JULY 24, 2016) -- The heat advisory didn’t end in time for the Brickyard 400.
Jeff Gordon’s return from retirement was enough to get some folks out in the sun and humidity, but not enough to pack the stands.
The heat was brutal for race fans today. More than 50 people were treated at the infield medical center alone.
Medical director Geoff Billows says people were still staggering into the medical center and tents, nearly an hour after the race ended.
Colby Novak is from Houston. He said even a heat index of 104 degrees couldn’t keep him away from the track with Jeff Gordon back on it.
“Thursday evening, I called Taylor and I was like, ‘Hey, we should go to Indianapolis because Jeff Gordon’s racing’, so we had to check him out,” said Novak. “The old man came out of retirement, so we had to come see him.”
Colby Novak was one of the ticket buyers behind a small spike in Brickyard ticket sales for third-party sellers late last week.
But Jeff Gordon’s return from retirement didn’t appear to be enough to boost struggling sale numbers.
“I’ve noticed the attendance even the past three years has fallen off,” said Phillip LeClair.
LeClair said he went to the very first Brickyard 400, where there wasn’t a seat open. Today, only the seats out of the sun came close to being filled.
The extreme heat may have pushed some to stay home, but diehard fans just settled for shade.
“Well we knew it was going to be hot and we’ve done this before, so we came a little more prepared this year, since it was going to be hot,” said Teri Clark, who sat underneath a tent her family brought with them.
For those less prepared, Speedway officials provided cooling stations and buses around the track. Taylor Kimble said she would’ve fainted if she hadn’t used it.
“The officers were sweet enough,” said Kimble. “They saw me over here, drove me over there, sat me on the bus. It was a really good experience to have that here and just made me feel a lot better to just come back out and watch the finish of the racing.”
Kimble drove a thousand miles with Novak to see Jeff Gordon. Novak said, even in the heat, watching Gordon race in person was worth every drop of sweat.
“My dad, he didn’t come because it was so hot,” said Novak. “But for me, no. I had to see him race. Had to do it.”