After decades of Indy 500s, fans celebrate race day like Christmas

INDIANAPOLIS – Like so many diehard racing fans, the Indy 500 is “ingrained” in Tobi Lynn’s DNA, but her family’s connection to the race is particularly special.

While some fans trek across the country – and sometimes travel internationally for the race – Lynn said her grandfather built a house just blocks from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and her mother went to Speedway High School – a short walk from the track. She grew up here too and has been going to the race since she was a kid.

Now in Los Angeles, Lynn returned for her 37th Indy 500, and, as she thought about it at the track Friday, she joked about how few memories she has from home that don’t relate to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing in some way.

“This is my Christmas,” Lynn said. “It’s hard to come home for the holidays, but I always come back in May.”

Fans watch IndyCar Series drivers practice for the 101st Indy 500. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Lynn watched the developmental series Indy Lights race and the pit stop competition for Indy 500 teams with an especially patriotic group of friends – complete with wigs, hats and cat and American flag shirts – several of whom share her experience of decades at the famous track.

Sunday will be 32-year-old Matt Skala’s 21st Indy 500. Also from L.A., he said his family is based in Cleveland and his relatives’ attendance at the race dates all the way back to his great-grandfather’s first time in 1923.

“There are so many things about this race that mean a lot to me and all these fans,” Skala said. “I get teared up a little every year. It’s an incredible tradition and the greatest sporting event in the world, and it’s just great to be part of that.”

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