History: What does Indy 500 mean to the town of Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WISH) – So what does the history of Indy 500 mean for the town of Speedway.

Well, for one thing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway pre-dates the Town of Speedway.

The track was built right there 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 there.

Now Speedway has it’s own police department and school system. And their high school mascot is the Sparkplugs.

“The month of May is the best month ever. It’s like Christmas for race fans,” said Speedway resident Lynn Attkisson.”I’m team Penske all the way.”

You can see his support right on his front porch. Others deck out their porches with checkered flags and other racing decor and with the sights and sounds of the track just steps away.

“I can hear it from my bed,” said Attkisson.

On race day, upwards of 400,000 people gather in and outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Many not even realizing it’s within a small town of just 12,000 people.

Almost like the Vatican City of racing, but instead of a pope, there’s town manager Jacob Blasdel.

“Speedway is a town with the city of Indianapolis. We’re completely surrounded by the city,” said Blasdel. “This is my first month on the job and I can already tell you and see how much planning goes int this.”

The partnership between IMS and the town of Speedway is vital to make the race run smoothly and racing supports the town’s economy year-round. Former drivers have opened up businesses and there’s even a boutique named Three Sisters and a Trunk that sells checkered clothing during the month of May.

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,” said Attkisson.

It’s a community effort – lead by, supported by, and made for fans to enjoy the greatest spectacle in racing.

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