SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Greatest Spectacle in Racing is less than one month away and local businesses in Speedway are already preparing to welcome the race fans.
This year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will open at full capacity for the first time since 2019. That means more than 250,000 fans will be in town come May 29 for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“Oh yeah. May is a big, big thing for us,” said Gerardo Rios, owner of Tacos and Tequila on Main. “We’re ready for it. This is what we’re waiting for.”
Rios said the month of May, alone, generates “almost half” of his annual revenue, and being without a full-capacity event the past two years has hindered that.
“We struggled a lot and we depend a lot on this,” said Rios. “[The] Indy500 for us is huge.”
The Racing Capital of the World brings in thousands of race fans from across the world. In order to accommodate those crowds, Barbecue and Bourbon plans to expand outdoor seating near the adjacent parking lot.
“We’ve done [outdoor seating] for a few years but we’ve only had two tables right [out front],” said Marley Mann, owner of Barbecue and Bourbon. “So now we’re going to have five or so this way.”
Mann said, due to prior capacity limits on bars and restaurants, this will be the businesses first year with a full bar and full restaurant in three years.
“The crowd’s been bigger than it’s ever been already,” said Mann. “You can just see everybody’s so excited and starting to go over to the track. We’ve had a few practices and testings already.”
Businesses said Main Street is already coming to life with energy leading up to the big race. While both owners said they are looking forward to welcoming those fans as patrons, they admitted they are still looking to fill open gaps in staffing.
“It’s hard to get help right now but we’re trying to get as much as we can because May is big,” said Rios. “I would say [we] are 80% prepared.”
Rios said he plans to be 100% staffed by Race Day and is holding interviews on-site. He said he is being flexible with potential applicants – even offering part-time positions solely for the month of May.
“[It’s hard] getting enough people ready and starting to train them now so they know how to handle it then,” said Mann. “I mean [the Indy 500] is new to so many different people and so to try and describe what race is – you don’t. It’s just a lot. You just got to experience it to see what happens but we’re excited for it again.”
Mann said she is still hiring cooks, dishwashers and front of house staff.