FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Jim Cornes had never seen the Indianapolis 500 in person prior to this year. The longtime IndyCar fan who lives in Fort Wayne hoped to check this item off his bucket list last year.
As a result of the pandemic, the race was delayed from its normal Memorial Day weekend timeslot to August, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway closed the gates to fans due to safety concerns. Cornes, like thousands of others who attend the race on an annual basis, was crushed. Unable to watch the race in person, Cornes sat outside IMS with about 20,000 other fans so he could at least hear the cars go around the track.
“It was much different, but I got a taste of not only the facility, but the people,” Cornes said.
Fast forward to May 2021, and IMS is readying for the return of the 500 with fans. While the race is a part of Indianapolis’ identity, fans from around the world, including northeast Indiana, look forward to Memorial Day weekend just for this event. Cornes says he has met groups of fans who annually make the 2-hour commute from northeast Indiana.
Based on what he has seen during qualifying and practice days, Cornes is excited to embrace the 500 with longtime fans.
“It’s a great sight to see a sporting event not only to see people again and crowds, but to see the diversity of young all the way to grandparents, the whole families there,” Cornes said.
Once Sunday afternoon rolls around, Cornes looks forward to hearing ‘Back Home Again in Indiana,’ the playing of the National Anthem and the parade lap of 33 cars lined up in 11 rows of three.
“I can’t wait. My heart’s going to be beating as fast as the cars are going to be going.”