Speedway businesses prepare for another empty race weekend

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SPEEDWAY — This weekend, thousands of race fans were supposed to witness history with NASCAR and IndyCar racing on the same track on the same weekend for the first time.

That historic combination will still happen, but fans won’t be there to see it in person thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It would’ve been a big weekend. I think that’s what they were really gearing for,” said Andy Foxworthy, a bartender at Dawson’s on Main.

NASCAR and IndyCar are both set for races all weekend long at IMS, including the Brickyard 400, now called the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400, taking place Sunday.

While the Brickyard doesn’t traditionally attract nearly the same amount of fans as the Indy 500, thousands were expected for the combination with IndyCar on 4th of July weekend. For a town that relies on racing, any fans would’ve been welcome.

“It was probably smart on their part,” Foxworthy said of the no fans policy. “But it would’ve been great to see a lot of people, definitely.”

It’s a missed opportunity for businesses on another holiday weekend. Many are still hurting from the postponed Indy 500.

“Definitely it hurt the business in May,” said Gerardo Rios, owner of Tacos and Tequilla. “We depend on May.”

For fans in the town of Speedway who had tickets for this weekend’s race, it’s still a race weekend even if they’re not at the track to see it.

“It was unfortunate, I was really looking forward to it,” Speedway resident Seth Hileman said of the Brickyard. “I’ll be watching. I’ll be out here. We’ll all still be hanging out in the neighborhood like we would if we were at the race, so we’ll still be celebrating for sure.”

Restaurants on Main Street sure hope they do. They say local customers have supported them through the pandemic so far, and they will count on them again this race weekend. Local business owners and fans alike hope that come August, the 500 goes on as planned.

“Any fans would be great,” Foxworthy said. “We’d love it if it was 25%, but thank goodness it’s 50%. We’ll take what we can get.”

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