SPEEDWAY, Ind. — In Speedway, it’s never too early to start thinking about spring.
“You know every year, May is coming. That’s going to be my biggest time,” said Marley Mann, owner of Barbecue and Bourbon.
The Indianapolis 500 is usually the busiest time of year for Mann and her staff, but these last couple of years during race season were some of the hardest.
“Our regulars are fantastic. They have made sure we’re good through all of this, but we have lost out on a lot during race,” she said.
The Indy 500 saw its share of roadblocks within the last two years, from seeing no fans in the stands to limited capacity. However, this year looks to be a change of pace as Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced plans to welcome back racing fans at full capacity this May.
“Everybody is tired of being cooped up, so I really think this year is going to be fantastic,” said Mann.
Mann said she’s already revving up staffing and other preps ahead of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“Speedway actually redid the whole parking lot beside us. We’re going to have a full patio this year going all the way down,” she said. “We’re starting to pull permits, getting coolers, getting everything ready to where we can do events outside this year.”
Mann said they’re hiring for just about every position. People can apply in person or online.
Right across the street from IMS sits Speedway Monogramming, which Jim Luebbert owns with his wife.
“It’s been great being here all these years,” he said. “We met people from all over the world, and I’ve traveled all over the world racing, and I’ve made some really great friends.”
For 38 years, they’ve opened their doors from its iconic location, selling timeless racing memorabilia and even parking spots for fans.
“When we had vendors across the front, it paid to put our son through college,” Luebbert said, “and just the people we’ve met, and the fun we’ve had over the years, you just can’t describe it.”
While the last three decades have been fun, it’s come with its set of hardship also. Luebbert said COVID-19’s impact over the last couple of years hurt operations.
“Business has been very bad. It’s affected us monetarily,” Luebbert said.
While the news of the 500 returning with fans at full capacity is exciting, it comes as bittersweet. Luebbert shared this May could be the last for Speedway Monogramming’s convenient location.
“The property is for sale, and we don’t know what’s going on with it,” he said.
Though future plans for the space are unclear, Luebbert said he’s looking forward to seeing the race at its full volume again. Even if someone new is moved into the space by May, Luebbert only has one piece of advice.
“Just tell them to embrace the 500, the fans and the Penske organization, and do everything they can to promote auto racing and just to be a fan of it, but take care of your customers and have fun!”