INDIANAPOLIS — Lawn chairs, blankets and coolers crowded the mounds along turn two at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Wednesday.
Fans got their first chance to see drivers take to the track in preparation for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
”Your hairs kind of stand on end when you walk in this place, even get close to this place,” said racing fan Scott Hoptry.
A rain delay held up the excitement for the first hour or so of the day, but fans waited patiently.
”It’s a national holiday and we’re out having a great time,” said Phil Kaiser, a Broad Ripple resident who’s gone to the 500 since he was young.
But even for those who sat on the mounds for more than two hours before racers got out on the oval, nothing was ruining their time.
”I’m getting ready to go to the track today, this is going to be a good day no matter what,” is what John Wiedeman from Kokomo said to himself when he got up this morning.
Around 12:30 p.m., the sun started to peak out and the familiar sounds of engines roaring returned to the track.
”You smell the methanol and the oil and the rubber and stuff and that’s like ‘Oh man!'” said Kaiser.
For some fans, like Kaiser, they’re here preparing for the real deal and making sure they know which driver is which.
”We’re checking out the color schemes and seeing if we can memorize them so when we’re way up there in turn one we can say, ‘There he is down there,'” he said.
Others, like Indy native Maggie Kuhn, are here to support their favorite racer.
“I can’t wait to just see his car go past me and I’m sure he’s going to recognize his own head,” said Kuhn, who was holding up a giant fat head of driver Will Power.
Kuhn said she’s new to racing and had to pick a favorite driver to make it enjoyable. She said she liked Power’s name and has now seen him in four races. She was at the 500 last year but has never been at one at full capacity.
”I’m ready,” Kuhn said. “I’ve got my big fat head.”
For other fans who have seen decades’ worth of Indy 500s, the open testing is just a tease for the real deal.
”Being here and just seeing it and smelling it, the fuel, the tires, the food,” fan Jeff Wiedeman said. “I just can’t wait.”
Wiedeman has been going to the 500 since the 80s. After missing the last two years because of COVID, he said this one will be extra special.
”It’s going to be emotional, just coming back here,” he said. “I think it’s going to be kind of overwhelming.”
For those fans who missed out on the action Wednesday, drivers will test out the track again from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. The mounds on turn 2 will be free and open to fans.