An Annual Pilgrimage; Fans Make Annual Trip to Anderson
By KEN de la BASTIDE
cnhi news service
of the Anderson Speedway there is a small
community of race fans that gather to camp during Pay Less Little 500 week.
There is an array of camping equipment
that covers the spectrum from tents, pop-up campers, 5th wheel trailers to RVs.
But they all have one thing in common
a love affair for open wheel racing and the Little 500.
Gary and Carol Becker have been
traveling to Anderson from
Lansing, MI since 1978. Since that time Gary has been two races and Carol has
failed to attend three events, the last time in 2000 for the birth of their
Carol Becker went to school with
former Little 500 competitor Gary Fedewa, who is being inducted into the Hall of
Fame this weekend.
“We were at the fairgrounds in Iona
and Steve Chassey asked if we were coming to the Little 500,” Gary said. “I’m
going what is the Little 500. Gary (Fedewa) got us hooked on coming and then he
missed a number of years.
“When I first saw the race I thought
somebody’s nuts, but you have to see it,” he laughed. “We’re race fans,
predominately open wheel. I tell everyone there is only two races a year the
Little 500 and the Supermods at Oswego (NY).”
For the Becker’s it is the start of
the summer racing season. The couple arrived in Anderson on Tuesday and will
leave on Sunday.
“We plan on coming every year,” Gary
said. “We always sit three rows from the top by the scoring tower.”
The Becker’s brought Gary and Carl
Waldron five years ago and Bill Duffield for the first time.
“I’m giving seminars on drinking beer
and having a fun time,” he said “I think it will be a good race after what I saw
last night (Winged sprints on Wednesday). I’m taking it all in.”
Carol Becker said she plans on sitting
behind Bill because his jaw will drop at the start.
“I liked it from the first time I saw
it,” Carl said. “Seen a lot of good racing here.”
Carl said Tony Elliott is probably the
best driver to never win a Little 500 and said Eric Gordon is probably a better
racer than Jeff Gordon in an open wheel car.
“ Dave Steele is always fast and
Gordon,” he said. “Lot of good drivers, I always liked Den England, Donnie Adams
“The thing that makes this race is all
the guys were the tops in their separate racing associations and were the best
out there,” Carl said.
Like the Becker’s, Gary and Phyllis
Smith from Ontario Province in Canada make the trip to Anderson to follow their
favorite drivers, Mike Ling and Ryan Litt.
This is their second trip to Anderson.
“When they run, we come,” the couple
said of Ling and Litt. “We had heard of the Little 500 and always wanted to
experience it,” Gary Smith said.
“I was very impressed,” he said of his
first Little 500 in 2009. “I liked the strategy behind it, to be there for the
last 50 laps.”
The couple attended the Winged Sprint
event at Winchester
Speedway last Sunday and have been staying in the impromptu campground on the
Anderson Speedway grounds since Monday.
Tickets are available for the historic 62nd Pay Less Little 500 at $27 for
reserved seating. For more information, contact the Anderson Speedway Ticket
Office at (765) 642-0206.