SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Main St. in Speedway Monday was a stark contrast to what it was the few days before. Race weekend brought thousands of fans and their wallets to the city surrounding the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
”It was definitely one of the bigger crowds that we’ve had here in quite a while,” said Angie Averitt, a worker at The Famous Soda and Candy Company.
The shop selling vintage candy, soda and race memorabilia even extended hours on the weekend.
”There were a couple of times where you couldn’t even meander through this area here there were so many people in it,” Averitt said.
She said they stayed open hours after they were supposed to close because the customers would not stop coming in.
“Just look around, we have holes to fill,” Averitt said pointing at the store shelves. “We’re spreading out merchandise to fill holes to make it look full.”
Vendors had great sales, too.
Artist Alex Wakefield was apart of the Speedway Month of May Pop Up Shop. He said it was very successful.
”We were supposed to close at 9 but we stayed open till 11 or 11:30, because there were so many people hanging out and still coming in and checking things out and buying stuff,” Wakefield said.
Longtime Indy 500 fans and Indy residents Phil and Nancy Mills were in Speedway for the fourth day in a row Monday.
”It was just an awesome experience, one of the best ever,” said Phil, talking about the 107th running of the greatest spectacle in racing.
Phil has been going to the Indy 500 since 1958, only missing two years when he served in the military.
From their view, the 107th running of the Indy 500 had one of the largest crowds in awhile.
”We’re on the top row, so we can look down at the stands, and normally there is a lot of empty space, but yesterday I didn’t see any,” Nancy said.
IMS officials said Sunday’s race saw the second biggest crowd in more than two decades.
An official number has not been reported yet, but that would indicate it was bigger than 2022 when 325,000 people were at the race. The 100th running in 2016 was the biggest of the last two decades with a sellout and 350,000 fans in attendance.
”It kind of makes you tear up if you’ve been coming as long as I have,” Phil said. “Just to see the crowd, it’s amazing.”
Now the countdown begins to the 108th running of the Indy 500. Just 363 more days till May 26th, 2024.