SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw nearly 85,000 fans for Indy 500 qualifying on Saturday and Sunday, according to IMS.
The crowd is the largest the weekend has seen in more than a decade. Some Speedway business owners say this is just another sign of a larger-than-last-year crowd for the greatest spectacle in racing.
“It’s a week out still and it’s been unbelievable,” said Marie Hall, the owner of Three Sisters and a Trunk on Main St. in Speedway.
Marie Hall’s business is a boutique selling Indy 500-inspired outfits and race memorabilia.
Just down the road is The Spark, a coffee company getting closer to its second anniversary of existence. Shift Lead Meagan Hall said the qualifying weekend treated them very well.
“Oh we had people in at 6 a.m.,” Meagan Hall said. “Packed at 6 a.m.”
A bigger crowd in 2023 than 2022 is a tall order, though. The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 was the first at full capacity in three years. The recorded attendance was over 300,000 fans in IMS, making for the second-largest crowd in the last 20 years.
“That Saturday before the race was unbelievable, unbelievable,” Marie said. She put an employee on the door just before closing time to finally stop the constant flow of people packing the store.
The Spark saw a crowd as soon as it opened bright and early on race day 2022.
“We had at least 240 breakfast sandwiches we made last year in just three hours,” Meagan said.
Even without the excitement of a full capacity crowd for the first time in three years like 2022 – both businesses are confident the 107th running of the Indy 500 will be even bigger.
“There are no doubts, we’re not worried at all,” Hall said.
Marie said the fans and customers showed up earlier than they ever have in her time on Main St.
“I opened April 1 and April was a very good month,” she said.
As of Friday, IMS said ticket sales for Carb Day and the race itself continue to track up year over year.
Marie said she believes it will be the best month of sales her store has ever had. Even bigger than 2016, when the 100th running of the 500 saw the biggest crowd in the last 20 years.
“It’s going to be too good, that’s all I can say,” Marie said.
Marie said Three Sisters and a Trunk will be closed Sunday but she expects crowds to be so big Saturday she’ll have a line out the front door of her store with people waiting to get in.
Meagan said The Spark is ready to go for the whole weekend with extra staff and extra equipment.