The Herald Bulletin

May 22, 2013

Off to the races

Little 500 fans set up camp at Anderson Speedway

By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Jack Lloyd has been chasing race cars since 1948.

For the past 15 or so years, that chase has had him camping out at Anderson Speedway for the Pay Less Little 500, which marks its 65th birthday this Saturday.

Every year, roughly 100 people camp there for free, setting up tents, grills and cornhole boards in the lot on the north side of the track.

“I want to beat all the others,” Lloyd said, “So I try to get here early” — really early.

Lloyd got here last Friday after driving from his home in Vandalia, Ohio. He parked his camper and roped off enough land for his buddies, Bill Rains and Steven Gibson.

Every year, the guys circle their campers, drag out the lawn chairs and wait for their pal, Butch Keel, who lives in Anderson. It’s kind of a reunion, Keel said, “We’ve done this for years. Wouldn’t miss it.”

But Lloyd’s here for business, not pleasure. Since the race cars have no starters, they need a little shove from a push truck to get going; Both he and Gibson are veterans.

Between practice runs, they toss back a few sodas with the guys. When the distant revving engines make chatting impossible, it’s “time to get back to work,” Gibson said.

Elsewhere on the lawn, Dave and Judy Kelley are doing anything but.

Since they sold their house and bought their camping mansion-on-wheels — seriously, it’s bigger than many one-story homes — the pair from Sebring, Fla., travels the country, fishing, drinking and following racing circuits.

They used to go to the Indianapolis 500, just a stone’s throw from daughter Julie’s house. “You can sit in her lawn and listen to the cars practicing,” Judy Kelley said.

But when the couple discovered Anderson and the Little 500 about 20 years ago, they were hooked, and have since brought along their daughter and friend, Nora Solomon.

“It’s more exciting,” Judy Kelley said. “You can see big-time (racers) and also the young guys trying to make it” — up-and-comers with something to prove.

And although prices have gone up a bit since their first Little 500, it’s still cheaper than Indy, she said. There’s no charge to camp or for pole and bump day events, today and Friday, respectively.

“I’ve been to Indianapolis (for the 500),” Solomon said. “This is better. It’s more fun.”

Like Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @BayleeNPulliam, or call 648-4250.