LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It’s the week before Memorial Day in Speedway, yet the race track is silent, Main Street is dead, and the restaurants are empty.
The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 was originally scheduled for Sunday but has been postponed until Aug. 23 due to COVID-19.
“You couldn’t have convinced me this was gonna happen five months ago,” said Marcia Huff, owner of Barbecue and Bourbon on Main.
It’s usually the peak of business for the restaurant, yet revenue is down 90%.
“It’s depressing,” Huff said. “You wait all year long and get revved up for this, and what should be a hustle-bustle wonderful time of year for us now is just completely different.”
The parking lot that’s usually home to a big tailgate party is now reserved for curbside pickup. Restaurants along the recently revitalized Main Street are doing what they can to survive.
Speedway Town Councilman Vincent Noblet said the eateries are a priority for the town.
“We fought so hard to get them here. We want to keep them,” he said.
Noblet, a lifelong Speedway resident, knows what the event means to the community and what the business means for the town financially.
“There’s estimates all over the place from 10-15% direct impact on our budget, which means we’ll have to tighten our belts,” Noblet said. “We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.”
He’s also a member of the Lions Club, one of the many community groups that runs parking lots outside IMS. The group usually pulls in $30,000 to $40,000 each year, which is a big piece of their yearly funding. But an empty track means empty lots.
“All of our funds as Lions members goes right back into the community, and that just means we’ll be working with less dollars this year,” Noblet said.
While May looks a lot different than normal for the town, residents hope that August will look different, as well, in a good way, according to a story by Fox 59.
Huff said she believes racing fans will show up in big numbers in late August.
“Racing fans are racing fans. They’re tough,” she said. “So, I think it’s going to be fantastic. That’s what I’m hoping for anyways.”
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