ANDERSON -- Spectators came out in droves to Anderson Speedway on Saturday for the Little 500. They carried folding chairs, wore wide-brimmed hats and spoke to each other with familiarity.
Many of them already know each other. They've been coming here for years.
Bill Hecht of Kokomo was tailgating at the 71st Pay Less Little 500. He's been coming to the race for more than 30 years.
"My dad took me to the races in 1951," he said. "I've been going ever since."
Hecht said his favorite part of the race is the start. He said he was pulling for Shane Butler to win.
Paul Macphee and Jeck Barker flew in for the race from Massachusetts. Macphee said he's been coming to the race since the late '90s.
"It's the thrill of the chase," he said. "There's nothing like the finishing lap. But it's the start, the finish and everything in between."
Barker said coming to Anderson is necessary for a good sprint race.
"They don't have sprint racing in Massachusetts," he said. "You have to come out here. It's the best place to come. I've been coming every year since 1998 and that doesn't sound like it was that long ago, but that's 20 years. It hooks you, and you come back."
Cindy Elliott, whose late husband was sprint car driver Tony Elliott, sat next to Barker and Macphee.
"I always come out and support (the Little 500) because it was one of my husband's favorite races," she said. "This one in particular is about the camaraderie. You make friends one year, come back and see them again. Every year, you see your friends."
Elliott said usually she does a 50-50 raffle for the Tony Elliott Foundation at the Little 500 but was unable to this year. However, the race has a soft spot in her heart.
"I married my husband in 2001 so that must have been the first year I was here," she said. "I've been coming ever since. I love it. It gets in your blood."
Follow Laura Arwood on Twitter @lauraarwood or call 765-648-4284.