NASCAR activities pick up ahead of Brickyard 400

Thousands of fans came out for the NASCAR hauler parade in Speedway.

Activity is picking up around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend's Brickyard 400.

Thousands of fans packed Main Street in Speedway Thursday for the NASCAR hauler parade. Dozens of semis that carry the race cars came rolling into town.

The parade gave fans a chance to check them out before teams go to work on Friday. Practice for the Nationwide race starts at 8:30 a.m., with Sprint Cup practice starting at 11:30 a.m.

Jeff Gordon held his annual charity bowling event at Western Bowl Thursday evening. This year's theme was a "luau theme."

The event raises money for Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Gordon's foundation has raised more than $3 million for the hospital.

Gordon won the first Brickyard 400 20 years ago.

"It seems so long ago. So many things, as you know, were happening at that time. I was racing here in Indiana, racing at IRP and all around and next thing I know, I am in North Carolina racing in NASCAR and just a few years later winning the Brickyard 400," Gordon said. "You know, my life has never been the same since then."

Danica Patrick is also back in town for the race. She visited a local YMCA Thursday, where her sponsor, Aspen Dental, offered free dental services.