As COVID-19 continues to impact live events and life in general, limited opportunities exist that provide a sense of normalcy and a welcome break from the issues going on in the world.

With what seems to be a constant stream of bad news, one can get a sense that the world has gone sideways and our sense of community is shattered.  One Indianapolis tradition, held most Wednesday evenings for many years, provides an opportunity to experience a live event and gives hope that our sense of community and returning to normalcy is alive and well.  

On select evenings, Lucas Oil Raceway hosts Wild Wednesday. Wild Wednesday allows anyone the opportunity to take their car or motorcycle down the prestigious drag strip where the biggest drag race of the year, the NHRA U.S. Nationals, is held. The experience would be comparable to sports fans being able to run the bases at their favorite baseball field or shooting baskets on the floor of their favorite basketball arena.  

Lucas Oil Raceway

Staging lanes at Lucas Oil Raceway

The Indianapolis community is fortunate to have this world-class facility and the professional staff at Lucas Oil Raceway bringing events to our city and for allowing the public the opportunity to race on the track. As they do with every event, the staff works hard to ensure the safest experience possible for everyone through the event rules and regulations and the meticulous care the crews take in conditioning the track.

Wild Wednesday is a diverse community of amateur to serious racers who come together to test the limits of their machines and themselves in a safe and controlled environment. The diversity of the people who race and attend is as vast as the vehicles they drive. On a typical night, one can find vehicles that are a little rough around the edges and being brought back to life, daily drivers, sports cars, and brand new purpose built dragsters. 

The diversity of the vehicles is a perfect metaphor for the uniqueness of the spectators and participants as all genders, ages, races, and backgrounds are represented. At the track, the larger issues and division between people we see in the news and on social media are not felt and on race night the community that gathers here is one. 

East stands toward the end of Wild Wednesday

East stands toward the end of Wild Wednesday

With the guidelines in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the ability to socially distance at the track is very easy and spectators will find plenty of space to watch the action. The vantage point from the stands on the East side of the track puts spectators next to the action, close to the concession area and restrooms, and if weather conditions are right, a front row seat to a spectacular Indiana summer sunset.

Spectators can also get up close by walk the parking and pit area to see the cars and talk to participants. On track action can be non-stop with a constant stream of cars, motorcycles, and dragsters making runs down the track. Participants are grouped together and typically include groupings of street cars, slick tire cars and dragsters, motorcycles, and junior dragsters.

Many of those racing use the opportunity to test their starting line timing and to tune their cars for optimal performance. In some instances, friends race against each other for bragging rights. The majority of the time, participants are racing against themselves and the clock and with the eclectic mix of cars, some unique matchups can be found at the start line.  

Unique matchup between Cadillac and pickup

Unique matchup between Cadillac and pickup

On occasion, the limits of the machines are overreached resulting in someone having to be towed home and more than likely explaining to their significant other why they need to invest money in repairs. When this occurs, the safety team at the track is quickly on the situation to ensure the driver is safe and will work to put the track back in order for the safety of the participants to follow.  

A Monte Carlo losing its wheel at the starting line

A Monte Carlo losing its wheel after the starting line

 Racing continues well into the evening usually ending around 10 p.m.  Toward the end of the evening, it is very common to see participants and spectators in the parking lot talking about their runs and cars before heading home.  Most are still feeling the adrenaline rush of the experience and looking ahead to the next time they get the opportunity to come back to race and see old friends.  

For anyone looking for something to do around town, Wild Wednesday is family friendly and a great opportunity to get out of the house, breathe fresh air (along with the occasional smell of burning rubber), experience something unique, and to get back a sense of normalcy and community. For the event schedule and more information, please visit Lucas Oil Raceway’s official website.

 As a side note, seeing how the racing community and this event welcomes all spectators and participants and the welcome relief the event offers to people needing some normalcy back in their lives, perhaps we should consider calling it “Welcome Wednesday”.

Unique matchup of racers

Unique matchup of racers