INDIANAPOLIS — Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gives racers a chance to hit their highest speeds yet, fans a chance to enjoy the track before the big day and Indiana State Police another day to prepare for the largest single day sporting event in the world.
Fans we talked to came from as close as just down the street to as far away as Brazil. For everyone, excitement was in the air as the Indy 500 got even closer and cars went even faster.
”We love it, we love it,” said Robert Parker, who said he’s been going to the Indy 500 since the 70s. Parker got to town earlier this week and is here through the 500 on Sunday.
It’s a return to the track for many, ahead of the big day.
“To get to be here is a privilege, it just is,” said Chris Riedel, a race fan from Kansas.
For some dedicated fans, it’s about introducing the next generation to racing.
“I really hope that it can become a tradition, its something I really did cherish as a kid, we used to sit out in turn 2,” said Rob Morrow.
Morrow was at Fast Friday with his wife Steffanie and their two young kids, Ruby and Maddux. It’s their first time at IMS as a whole family.
Others have been doing this for decades, and established their own traditions along the way.
“We carried food and beer for 2-and-a-half miles and soon found out we didn’t want to do that,” said Parker. “So I started this wagon thing, it just kind of took off.”
He and his friend William Smith were toting everything they needed to watch the races in wagons that looked more like race cars.
Parker started this tradition more than 20 years ago. He makes a new wagon each year and sells it for charity. The blue wagon is the one he uses to haul everything he needs.
“We’ve been doing it ever since, you need it because we have about 14 seats,” Parker said.
As drivers hit their highest speeds yet on fast Friday, state police are getting ready, too.
“We’ve done this before but we don’t go into it being cavalier thinking we have everything figured out,” said ISP Sgt. Tony Slocum.
ISP works security inside IMS and helps people get in the speedway. Slocum said they’re always trying to get better.
“We’re always trying to improve our plan and stay one step ahead of anyone that might want to cause harm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” he said.
As we countdown the days to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, people we talked to say they aren’t taking any day at the track for granted.
“We’ve missed out on a lot the last couple years,” said Connie McCarthy, an Indy native. “We had to listen to it on the radio and everything and so being back at full capacity is just reminding us what its all about being here in Indianapolis.”
Qualifying continues this weekend started at Noon on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. There are also a few hours of practice both of those days.