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Speedway man prepares to go to his 80th Indy 500

Gerald "Jerry" Hofmockel is 95 years old and has been going to the track since he was 9 or 10.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — When the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 gets underway, a fan sitting in the stands will be seeing his 80th race.

Gerald "Jerry" Hofmockel is 95 years old and has been going to the track since he was 9 or 10. 

"Back then, there was hardly anything in the track. There wasn't any seats at all except just behind the pits," Hofmockel said. "That was the only seats in the track."

Credit: Gerald Hofmockel
Gerald "Jerry" Hofmockel as a child when he first started going to the Indy 500 at the age of 9 or 10.

He's missed a few years when the race didn't run during World War II, and a few others for reasons he can't even remember now. After last year's race was run without fans because of the pandemic, Hofmockel can't wait until Sunday.

"Just looking forward to getting over there and who wins," Hofmockel said.

Going to the race is a family tradition, one could say. Hofmockel's father went to the first race in 1911.

This year, 40 of his family members will be joining him at the race.

"I don't know if it's genetic or not, but it's some kind of influence I guess," Jerry said.

"Every year, we ask him, 'Are you going again this year?' Every year, he does it. It's pretty impressive," said Hofmockel's grandson, Brad Hittle.

Hofmockel is the quintessential family man. He took care of his son, who had a mental handicap, for 67 years. He then took care of his wife until she died in 2020. Jerry has eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

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