Fans gather outside IMS, local restaurants prepare for Brickyard 400

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INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday is the grand finale of a historic triple header weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) that includes the Grand Prix, Pennzoil 150 and the Brickyard 400.

Since Friday, many fans have decided to find a place to listen to the engines outside the gates since they are not allowed inside due to COVID-19.

“It’s great when you get to see fans coming out, so I’m excited it’s Brickyard day, but a little disappointed that we don’t get to let these folks in. But you can see how passionate folks are about our events here, and we’re looking forward to fun Big Machine Hand Sanitizer today,” said IMS President Doug Boles.

Sunday morning for the Brickyard 400, there was at least half a dozen people at Gate 1 ready to enjoy the event any way they can.

“We’re just here. We brought breakfast and mimosas, bacon, some casseroles. We’re just here early to kind of bring the spirit of Speedway back, even though we can’t be in the track. We’re just here for a few hours before we go hit the pool together,” said Speedway resident Julie Calvert.

Calvert and her crew of four were decked out in their red, white and blue. Regardless of where they can be for the race, they say what’s important is keeping the spirit and tradition alive in Speedway.

“We participated in a lot of porch parties at my house. That’s what we do, normally in May and normally whenever there’s a race here. Then we participated in our bike decorating kind of contest the other day. We had a party yesterday at my house that started at 11 a.m. and ended around 1 a.m., sorry to all the neighbors. But we’re just here to keep the spirit alive and to support Roger Penske and his team and what he’s done, it’s amazing,” said Calvert.

You also have some supporting local businesses since many have been in limbo due to COVID-19. Many Speedway businesses are jam-packed on race weekends, it’s not the same this year.

“It’s been very difficult, all restaurants are going through this of course. We’re really trying to put our best foot forward. With this pandemic going on, it’s just important that we adhere to all of the regulations, state and local, WHO, CDC. So when the guests come to our store they can feel comfortable knowing that we’re doing the right things,” said 1911 Grill general manager Mike McFarlane.

1911 Grill on Main Street won the Backyard Brickyard Cocktail Contest with their infamous “Pagoda Punch.”

“At 1911 Grill we do everything we can to make the guest experience on another level. We have a great bar of food, we have craft beer specials, we have great service, great teams, great owners and of course, great assistant manager. I think we are a tough team to beat on Main Street, and I promise you if you come here you won’t be disappointed,” said McFarlane.

Meanwhile, those at IMS are still working to get ready for the month of August for the Indy 500.

 “I think at most we will be at half capacity. It may be less than that. We’re just really trying to work with our ticket holders, give them an opportunity to get a credit if they don’t feel comfortable coming, and then we’re going to look at our seating and start talking to our customers. And we hope that if we can all stay safe here, we can have some racing here with fans in August for the 104th running of the Indy 500,” said Boles.

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