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Indy 500 in the books, but heat isn't a record

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Fans sought shade under the grandstands and beneath umbrellas. Misting stations got a healthy workout. But Sunday's Indianapolis 500 won't go down in the record books as the hottest in the 101-year history of the race.

The temperature in Indianapolis hit 91 degrees at the end of the race, just one degree shy of the race-day record of 92 set in 1937, according to the National Weather Service. It was also 91 on race day in 1919 and 1953.

Even so, it was plenty warm for the tens of thousands of fans who carted coolers full of ice and water into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to see Dario Franchitti win his third 500.

"It was way hot but the breeze was really helping," said Susan Binder of Columbus, who watched the first 25 laps from her seat along the main straightaway before taking a break and heading to a tent for some infield tailgating.

Speedway officials had spent the week urging fans to stay hydrated and use sunscreen liberally after forecasters called for temperatures in the mid-90s with a heat index of 100. The track brought in portable misters and cooling fans and prepared to treat more than 1,000 fans at its medical facilities.

Late Sunday, track officials said fewer than 200 people were seen for heat problems and other issues at the infield medical center and low numbers were expected at other sites around the vast speedway.

The heat and cloudless skies sent John Genenbacher of St. Louis under the concrete and aluminum grandstands about midway through the race to get some shade. But he said this was his 39th trip to the race and that the hot day didn't discourage the group of about 40 people who attend the race together.

He said a steady breeze the kept flags flapping helped a lot.

"It doesn't seem as hot as it was a couple years ago," Genenbacher said. The race-day high hit 89 degrees in 2009.

Shelia and Russ Wilkinson of Janesville, Wis., have attended nearly every 500 since 1968. Shelia Wilkinson said she kept drinking water throughout the race but only left her seat in the sun once during the race.

She said she thought the weather had been more miserable in other years when it was more humid and lacked any breeze.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," she said. "We know the drill."

Chris and Maggie Saunders of Toledo, Ohio, spent much of the day in the shade of the grandstands' second deck along the track's main straightaway. They helped keep themselves cool by soaking handkerchiefs in ice water from their cooler and tying them around their necks.

Chris Saunders has attended about a dozen 500s, but it was Maggie's first. Despite Sunday's heat, she said, "I'll come back."

Some fans, though, opted to sit this one out.

Paula Jarrett, 52, of New Palestine, just east of Indianapolis, has attended nearly every race for the last decade, and her husband, David Hill, has been going for about 20 years. They've sat through unseasonably cold days, heat waves and even severe thunderstorms in 2004 that spawned tornadoes in the city.

"We usually never miss a race," Jarrett said. "We've been at the track before when it's 55 and rainy and you're freezing your rear off and drinking hot chocolate and wishing the sun would come out, and we've been out there and fried in the sun."

This year, though, they decided to sell their tickets high in the third turn after seeing the forecast.

Jarrett said her husband had some "seller's remorse." Still, she said sitting this one out wasn't all bad.

"There's something to be said for staying at home and listening to it on the radio," she said.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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