Hundreds of thousands flock to Indiana for Indianapolis 500


(NewsNation) — Over 300,000 people are expected to be in Indianapolis this weekend for the Indianapolis 500 to witness racing’s most prestigious event. A select handful of those fans have attended the event more than 55 times.

Sunday’s 106th rendition of the Indy 500 will be the 60th straight racing superfan Stan Cvetkovich has attended.

“I’ve been to about all the polls, been to about all the practices and the bump days back in the day,” Cvetkovich said. “My son has been coming since he’s been a little child and I’ve got a grandson now and hopefully I can start bringing him.”

Richard Darlington is on a streak of 59 straight years attending the Indy 500 and even took a job as a track photographer to get closer to the action.

“I wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for a good neighbor that had a box and he was like a grandfather to me,” Darlington said. “The one thing that brings me here, though, is my grandfather owned a race car in the third race.”

Those fans are hungry too and their return to a full Indy 500 with no COVID-19 restrictions has restaurant owners thrilled.

“I’ve always had good business, they line up out the door, but everybody is doing great,” said Elizabeth Glover, owner of Charlie Brown’s restaurant in Indianapolis, an Indy 500 staple. “They were coming to the door and getting their to-go’s but I like having them in here. I like talking to them.”

Defending Indy 500 champion Hélio Castroneves, who won the race for a fourth time last year, is confident he can defend his crown this year and he feels he has the right car to do it.

“This place picks the driver. I have been in a situation where I have had a fast car and haven’t won and I’ve been in a situation where I didn’t have a fast car and ended up winning,” Castroneves told NewsNation. “So at the end of the day I wouldn’t rule out anybody, but I feel very confident with myself.”

But others are also feeling confident this could be their year to win the race, including challengers such as pole winner Scott Dixon. Dixon set a qualifying record this week with an average lap speed of 234 mph.

“It doesn’t guarantee you anything,” Dixon said. “We’re going to have to work hard and have a flawless race. You have to have a flawless race to win here. And always, a little bit of lady luck.”

The Indianapolis 500 begins Sunday at 12:45 p.m. ET.

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