INDIANAPOLIS — All the hope this week for a dry track worked! Drivers were able to get their final practice in just after 1 this afternoon. Despite the rain chances, Carb Day drew thousands of people who call this weekend the best of the year.

From the first moment inside the gate, the wave of emotions hits race fans, even those who have never sat in the stands for the 500, like Heath Rentzell.

“This is our first time being here,” Rentzell exclaimed. “We got the bronze badges, so we’ve been going to the garages, seeing the drivers. Jimmie Johnson was nice to give us this suite so we’ve been having a fun time here. This is our first time here so it’s going to be really exciting.”

If Heath’s experience is anything like Cathy Shumaker’s, we will see him every year!

“I came the first time and Al Unser Jr and Emmo crashed in the third turn,” Shumaker said. “We saw that and I’m like, ‘that’s it, I have to be here every year’. Now I sit in the first turn.”

Shumaker started coming to the race with her dad, an Indy native and devoted fan.

“I graduated from college on Race Day, I won’t tell you what year but Johnny Rutherford won,” Shumaker said. “He’s sitting at my college graduation with a transistor radio.”

The emotional ties to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, specifically the Indy 500, are strong.

“I’m from Arizona so every year, we fly out here and come back to the track with him,” Tony Root said. “This is the first year without him, but we all wanted to have a little tribute for him.”

Root lost his dad to COVID-19 in September. His family and friends continue to keep his traditions alive.

“This was his thing,” Root said. “We’d come out every year for him basically.”

Whether you live here or flew in, Carb Day makes everyone feel like they’re back home in Indiana.

“I would not miss this,” Shumaker said. “It’s like Christmas and my birthday!”