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Pay Less Little 500 is Family Tradition; Camping is part of Anderson Speedway

By Ken de la Bastide

(May 24, 2012) – 
The annual Pay Less Little 500 is more than an event it is a family tradition to come to Anderson Speedway every year in hopes of winning the richest pavement sprint car race in the world.

Terry DeCaire has been making the trek from Florida for the past seven years in the hope of observing his son, Troy, make Little 500 history.

“It’s a tradition, everyone from Tampa comes to the Little 500,” he said. “We were involved in late models, but Troy wanted to race sprint cars.”

DeCaire said he was beside himself when he watched his first Little 500.

“It was the greatest thing I ever saw,” he smiled. “It’s the greatest thing in short track racing. It’s spectacular to watch 33 cars on a quarter-mile track.”

DeCaire said another unique feature of the race is the fact that it draws quality drivers and there are very few stoppages in the action.

“It’s also the atmosphere,” he said. “The people are unbelievable. We’re treated very well, not had anybody treat me bad. This will be an annual trip for me.”

When asked what it would mean to have Troy win the Little 500, his mother, Sandi said it brings tears to her eyes just thinking about it.

“Everyone wants to win it,” Terry said. “It’s the toughest thing you will ever do. We’re not going to quit until we win it.”

DeCaire said family and friends make the trip to make 11-second pit stops during the race.

“We need an Anderson Speedway in Florida,” he said. “These are real race fans up here. This should be on every race fans ‘bucket list’.

Michigan resident Jerry Carman has raced in the Little 500 and his brother Marvin is a two-time winner.

He has been coming to Anderson Speedway for 30 years and said his brother came to the race before competing in the Little 500.

“This place is legendary,” he said. “Anyone involved in open wheel racing knows about the Little 500. At my first race I thought is anybody going to finish this thing. You can’t over hype this race.”

Carman said every year the start is exciting, but it’s more exciting if they run the first 20 or 30 laps without a caution.

“It was neat,” he said of Marvin’s first win in the Little 500. “Marvin was always good at the long races, anything over 50 laps. It was not surprising to me that he won.”

Carman said five or six people who help the race team infrequently during the season always make the trip to Anderson for the Little 500.

“It’s a unique time,” he said.

Anderson resident Ron Leonard has witnessed 42 Little 500’s and has been camping at the track for the past five years. He saw his first race at the age of eight.

“The first 50 laps were the most exciting thing I had seen in my life,” Leonard said. “It’s still fascinating. There is nothing like the Little 500.”

Just like his father, Leonard brought his son Adrian to the Little 500 when he was six years old and today brings his two grandsons.

“It’s a tradition for us,” Adrian said.

Phoebe Anderson and Rob Slick have been among the campers at the speedway for the past few years. Slick has been attending races since 1970.

“I was not a race fan,” Anderson said. “He (Rob) told me it was the craziest little race he ever saw. I feel in love with it.”

Anderson said when she was told about 33 cars racing for 500 laps on a quarter-mile track, she had to see it.

“We tell everyone at the Moose Lodge in Winchester that they need to come to the Little 500,” Slick said. “If you’re not going to the (Indy) 500, this is the best show.”