This is May.

Hoosier traditions define the month of May
This is May.

     IIt’s silent during the winter. In the spring there are rumblings, whispers. In May you hear it. Hundreds of thousands of skeletons shake when cars tear around a 2 and a half mile track in rural Indiana. F-35 fighter jets rip through the air over cornfields of a seemingly forgettable Midwestern suburb. In swarms, auto-sport fans from around the world migrate to this oasis in the middle of an American sports desert. For a few days a year, Speedway Indiana, a town of 13 thousand, transforms to a sports media giant. With a population of over 350,000 during Memorial Day weekend, Speedway Indiana grows into a fiery crowd. This year, like clockwork, Speedway will transform again as Hoosiers prepare for the 108th running of the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500.

     Indiana isn’t a particularly small state by measure of land mass or population, placing 38th and 17th respectively. Yet the Hoosier media footprint is seemingly small. It appears as though, often, Hoosiers get lost in the blur of Midwestern corn and soybean fields. To many not from Indiana it seems to be a rather forgettable state, but not for one month. Not for May. 

     May belongs to Indy in a way few other sporting events can. From the milk baths to flyovers, Indy 500 traditions are embedded into Hoosier DNA.  Junior Cam Mullen, a life long Hoosier and auto sports fan understands this about Indiana.

     “For Hoosiers it’s racing and basketball. That’s it,” Mullen said.

Story continues below advertisement

     But May means more than one race. It means a month-long festival celebrating all our great state has to offer. It means the Indy500 Festival Mini-Marathon, one of the largest half marathons in the world. It means the Indy Grand Prix, a newly created road course circuit race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2 weeks before the Indy 500. It means Indy 500 qualifying, a spectacle in and of itself as crowds fill the bleachers at IMS just to see the cars attempt to qualify for the following weekend’s race. It means the 500 Festival Parade, a parade dedicated not only to the excitement of race weekend, but also to the great American men and women whom Memorial Day is about. To Hoosiers it means everything. That is May. This is May. 

Every year, Indiana begins their month of May celebration with the pop of a starting gun at the 500 Festival Mini Marathon. Named best half marathon by USA today, the Indy 500 festivities start off with 13.1 miles through the streets of Indianapolis, and onto the historic track of the Indiana Motor Speedway. Freshman and finisher of the mini Matt Huseman says one of the best feelings of the entire race was running on the track–just like the world-famous race cars.

     “The atmosphere [at the speedway] was really nice,” Huseman said. “Looking up at all the stands was amazing.” 

     Huseman describes the mini as one of his favorite all-around experiences for a race. As both a cross country and track athlete for the Millers, he’s had his fair share of race experience. However, the amount of effort the city of Indianapolis puts in to host the event is what makes the 500 Festival Mini reign supreme for Huseman.

     “The race is so different because there’s so much to see while you run by. You get to see the whole city,” Huseman said. “Every mile, there’s a band that plays on the course. We ran through streets lined with shops, and even the zoo.”  

     For one month, as spring showers transition to summer sun, the entire state of Indiana comes together for the Indy 500 festival. Even at the beginning of May, starting at the mini-marathon with the official race three weeks away, the city’s largest hotel decorates itself accordingly.

     “On the [JW Marriott] there was this big poster that said ‘this is may,’” Huseman said. “Everywhere we ran there were advertisements for the race.” 

     David Hartman lives a double life–literally. To the aspiring musicians of Noblesville High School, he’s the orchestra director and guitar teacher. However, Hartman has a second lifestyle that affects the Indy 500 directly. 

     “I have a twin brother who works for performance tire services,” Hartman said. “Eventually they turned into the company that services the Firestone racing tires for the Indy Car Garage.”

     Hartman, having a direct connection to the racing world, decided to work for his brother’s company around twenty years ago. His eight to five job was stamping the firestone logo on the tires all day, but when it’s race day, he serves a more intense purpose. 

     “I’m a temper, which [means that] my job at the track is to take the temp of the race tires when they come into the pits during practice sections,” says Hartman. “Or if it’s a live pit or [during] refueling when the tires come over the wall.” 

     Not only is Hartman a temper for the race, but he also bears the responsibility of scanning the barcodes on the sets of tires to send data back to the engineers. Hartman’s job requires him to be on the track at four in the morning, before anyone else shows up. He has a front row seat to see the energy change as race day goes on. 

     “As the morning goes on [the stadium] fills up and you can kinda sense the excitement [the] more the people get into the stands,” Hartman says. 

Mullen has been going to the Indy 500 since he was seven years old, and everytime he enters the stadium, it’s a memorable moment for him. 

     “My favorite part is when you’re walking in, under the grandstands, and everything’s a little dark, and then you walk up the stairs and you’re just hit with the sun and the track,” Mullen said. “It’s just amazing.”

     Sophomore Josh McGraw, fan of motorsport racing here at NHS, describes the feeling of being at the race. 

     “Watching that first lap, there’s nothing like it. Eleven rows of three cars on the track, there’s nothing like it,” McGraw said.  

     The Indy 500 brings people from all over the world together for one night, and Hartman remembers how this one event can build a community. 

     “To me, it just reminds me how connected we truly are,” Hartman said. “We have people from Australia, we have people from far east Germany, Norway, Canada, South America. I really enjoy that diversity especially at the Indy 500.”

     Not only does the race bring people together from all over, but in the heart of it all in Speedway Indiana, people bond over the love of the race. Henry Johnson, a media intern for the Indy 500 notices the interconnectedness. 

     “Especially, the town of Speedway has a sense of community. Everyone comes together this time of year,” Johnson said. “They wouldn’t have the race without the people at the speedway. People rent out their yards for tailgates, their homes to stay in. All 13,000 people chip in.”

     According to The Sporting News, although the Indy 500 seats only 257,325 fans, 325,000 attended the 2023 Indy 500, marking it as the second highest record of attendees in Indy 500 history. People from all over the world come to Indiana to watch the highest-attended sporting event of the year. Whether they live in another country or in the racing city of Speedway, once the 200 laps and 500 miles have been raced and everyone is ready to come home, they will take a little piece of Hoosier pride with them. 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Aiden Caddell
Aiden Caddell, Staff Writer
Aiden Caddell is a junior at NHS. This is his first year as a member of Mill Stream. He enjoys running, music, and watching his favorite sports teams. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Max Arnold
Max Arnold, Staff Writer
Max Arnold is a junior at NHS. This will be Max's second year on the broadcast staff and first on Mill Stream. He runs cross country in the fall and track in the spring. You can reach him at [email protected]
Heather McQuinn
Heather McQuinn, Managing Editor
Heather McQuinn is a senior at Noblesville Highschool, this is her third year on the Mill Stream!  You can contact her at [email protected].
McKenzie Vitale
McKenzie Vitale, Managing Editor & Asst. Photo Editor
McKenzie Vitale is a senior at Noblesville High School. This is her third year on the Mill Stream. Photography is a passion of hers and she hopes travel the world and photograph all that she sees. You can usually find her watching a good movie or listening to music(her favorite bands include Alice in Chains, The Lumineers, Sponge.)