INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Each year as the best IndyCar drivers in the world compete for the Indianapolis 500 title, millions of people turn their attention to Indianapolis. Or do they? The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is actually not located in Indianapolis at all. It is in Speedway, Indiana. Speedway is a small town with a quaint, but revitalized, Main Street where racing is everything.
“The month of May is the best month ever. It’s like Christmas for race fans,” Lynn Attkisson said.
He’s lived in Speedway for two years and is one of thousands here who lives and breathes racing.
“Team Penske all the way,” Attkisson said.
You can see Penske banners hung from his front porch. Others in the neighborhood deck out their homes with checkered flags and other racing decor, while the sights and sounds of the track are just steps away.
“I can hear it from my bed,” Attkisson said.
On race day, upwards to 400,000 people gather in and outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making it the second largest city in Indiana. Still many do not even realize it’s within a small town of just 12,000 people.
“Speedway is a town within the city of Indianapolis. We’re completely surrounded by the city,” sai Jacob Blasdel, Speedway Town Manager.
Almost like the Vatican City of racing, but instead of a pope, there’s Blasdel.
“This is my first month on the job and I can already tell you and see how much planning goes into this,” he said.
The partnership between IMS and the Town of Speedway is vital to making the race run smoothly and racing supports the town’s economy year around. Former drivers have opened up businesses and there’s even a boutique, Three Sisters and a Trunk, that sells only checkered clothing for the month of May.
“Right here in Speedway, we love it,” Attkisson said.
But the town and track leaders can’t do it alone. It’s the people who call Speedway home, who fill in the gaps. From being track workers called yellow shirts to providing parking on their own front lawns.
“My property is a pretty decent size for Speedway. I reserve most of my driveway for motorcycles. I park cars. I let people camp,” Attkisson said.
It’s a community effort lead by, supported by, and made for fans to enjoy the greatest spectacle in racing in Speedway, Indiana.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does pre-date the Town of Speedway.
The track was built right in 1909. It wasn’t until 17 years later that the original owners of the land decided to create a residential area to compliment the industrial development here.
Today, Speedway has its own police department and school system. And their high school mascot is the Sparkplugs.