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Piles of beer cans, inflatable bars, and the Coke Lot’s unsung hero

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Speedway, Indiana – This weekend’s festivities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started well before the race. The celebration is centered around a campground called the Coke lot, which is home to a colorful cast of individuals.

“I think, arguably, Lot 1C is the best lot here at the Indy 500,” one camper said.

“We’ve been drinking since Wednesday, we make our pile,” another camper said while pointing out a growing heap of beer cans in the grass.

At the lot, there was a particular chant that went, “Real fast, real left!”
Every year for the Indianapolis 500, Jon Nevin travels from Ireland to Indianapolis. He took an inflatable version of his father’s bar with him this year.

“In 1999, a buddy of mine says, ‘You’ve got to go to the race,’” Nevin said. “I said, ‘Eh, I don’t know.’ So, I did and never stopped coming.”

At the inflatable bar, there is no cover fee—just a request that you sit down, stay a while, and meet some new people.

But one guy in particular sticks out year after year amid all the others in the Coke lot.

“Everyone knows Ron,” a camper said. “If you’re in the Coke Lot, you know Ron.”

Ron O’Connor gained notoriety for winning a five-ton, six-by-six military tractor truck at an auction.

“He just drives around for five days straight,” one camper added. “If you’re in trouble, Ron pulls you out. That’s what he’s known for.”

Some attend the Indianapolis 500 purely to take in the finest racing spectacle. Some arrive with a purpose, such as ensuring that everyone returns home safely.

“We’re in the Midwest, it’s a great place to grow up, raise your kids, and everybody helps everybody,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor, a veteran US Marine, assists in towing big RVs that become trapped in the mud of the Coke lot. Given that the race day forecast is for rain, O’Connor said he is more than ready to carry on providing his services without charge, as he has done for more than five years.

“They all come and wait for rides,” O’Connor said. “There’s a list. Sometimes, I have to go eat.”

“Do they know all they need to do to get a ride is get stuck?” asked FOX59 and CBS4’s Scarlett O’Hara.

“No they didn’t know that, don’t tell them that,” O’Connor said with a laugh.

O’Connor claims that in order to make the most of race weekend, he doesn’t even need to watch the Indianapolis 500.

“It’s just what we do for the people that get stuck,” O’Connor said. “They feel like they’re in a bad place, and we bail them out, no problem. It’s fun. It’s heartwarming. The people are so kind and generous and friendly.”

After the race, O’Connor claimed that any of the security personnel in Lot 1C can assist you in getting in touch with him if you find yourself stranded and in need of a tow. Everybody knows what he’s done.

 

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