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Frontline health care workers enjoy a different kind of race at IMS ahead of next vaccination clinic

The health care heroes of the past year sped around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before helping 100,000 Hoosiers get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — A year after the start of a global pandemic, some of the same people on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19, health care workers, got a taste of normal life again. 

If you call racing around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 120 miles per hour, getting back to normal, that is. 

“All the track's just in front of you, so you’re really not feeling too much of your own body and just enjoying, like, what’s happening surrounding you,” said IU Health infectious disease Dr. Nicolas Barros.

Credit: IU Health
Health care workers pose for a photo at the "Yard of Bricks" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

After a year of being surrounded by the devastation of COVID, Barros was more than happy to be part of a few dozen frontline health care workers who got the chance to ride shotgun, alongside IndyCar driver Conor Daly and veteran IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher on Wednesday. 

“It was actually quite amazing. It’s such a lovely place for people that like racing. It’s so magic,” Barros explained. 

“We’re really really thankful for them, so if we can take them for a ride here on the racetrack which is our home, which is our love, that’s fantastic,” said Daly.

Some of the same frontline health care workers who were racing around the track will be back at IMS Thursday to join another race, the one to get more Hoosiers vaccinated with a mass vaccination clinic at the track. 

The goal is to get close to 100,000 more Hoosiers vaccinated at IMS by the end of April. 

“We’re doing what we need to do to get these vaccines into the arms of the people of Indiana as quickly as possible,” said Mary Kay Foster, IU Health’s mass vaccination clinic manager. 

“It is exactly a race. It is a race against the virus,” said Barros. 

It’s a race against new variants that have already developed. 

“The fastest we can get everyone vaccinated, the less likely these strains will go around the United States,” Barros explained. 

That means getting back to moments where people are enjoying life with each other, not worried about getting sick. 

“Just being there, it really feels like...it kind of makes you smile again, like things are slightly coming back to normal,” said Barros of his visit to IMS.