Clodfelter family builds tradition at the track

Sports

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – For the Clodfelter family, the Indianapolis 500 isn’t just a sporting event. It’s a family tradition. 

A tradition that runs three generations. It all started when Chris Clodfelter’s father began taking him to Indy 500 qualifying races when he was five. 

“First time being in such a big place, seeing the cars and the sounds, it hooked me for life, and I still get goosebumps whenever I go back there,” Chris said.

It’s been pedal to the medal ever since. This year’s race will mark Chris’ 33rd time attending the Brickyard.

But just like his father before him, he’s passed down his love of racing to his son, Zane. 
Zane attended his first race at seven years old, and hasn’t missed Carb Day in the 25 years since. 

“It’s a blast because I get to be with my dad,” Zane said. “It’s something that’s brought us together. And the amazing thing about the Indy 500 is that it’s family-oriented. In 2006, It was Marco Andretti racing for the lead with his dad, Michael. And as I’m watching that transpire, I can look to my right, and there’s my dad. So it’s a family affair for the racers on the track, and it’s a family affair for those of us watching it.”

Iconic racing finishes like the 2006 Indy 500 remains one of the family’s favorite memories through three decades of races. 

So when COVID-19 postponed last year’s race, their tradition – and streak were in jeopardy. 
But the Clodfelter’s wouldn’t let the pandemic spoil their Memorial Day ritual. They drove to Indianapolis on race weekend, and spent the day outside IMS to get a taste of “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.”

“I still wanted to keep the streak of being there on Memorial Day weekend alive because that’s apart of the Indy 500 nostalgia,” Zane said. “What they do to honor the military, how they do all the pre-race ceremonies, honoring the fallen soldiers. That’s a big part of the race’s fabric itself.”

So with a limited capacity of fans allowed to attend this year’s 500, you better believe the Clodfelter’s will be making up for lost time.

“It’s been a long time waiting to go, and the Indy 500 is the perfect thing for me to go to,” Chris said of the impending return to the track.

“Some families might go to the movies; they might go to a theme park. For me and my sister and our whole family growing up, it was going to games,” Zane said. “People do other trips, go to Gatlinburg or something. For me, Indy’s great because it’s what we’ve always done. So, why change it if it works?”

(This story was originally published on May 26, 2021)

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