Fans Flock For Race Day Fashion

From retro graphics to classic designs, Indianapolis 500 revelers have plenty of sartorial options from local shops.

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Hats, koozies, T-shirts, and tank tops can all be found at Broad Ripple’s The Shop.

Joseph Ball

Whether donning retro-inspired T-shirts or suiting up to get down in the Snake Pit in their finest “American-flag casual,” attendees of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing have plenty of fashionable race-day options from local retailers.

Broad Ripple’s The Shop is a popular destination for people looking for apparel for their favorite Indy sports team or culturally inspired threads, and that only ramps up during race month.

“May is just as busy as Christmas time,” says Hillary Brown, a store manager.

Out-of-town visitors and Indianapolis residents alike visit The Shop to find retro, vintage, and old-school logos and graphics. Brown says the only way you can tell the difference is when guests who are in Indy just for the race ask questions about what the various shirts mean.

The Shop started an exclusive licensing partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016, and this year, three of the products approved for sale by IMS are being sold at the track. Those three are shirts celebrating Al Unser’s 1970 and 1971 Johnny Lightning machines, the 1987 race won by Al Unser, and the 1992 race won by Al Unser Jr.

Graham Brown, owner of the apparel company United State of Indiana—a line that’s sold in several local stores, including, soon The Shop—tries to occupy a different niche.

“My personal style is more of a kind of timeless thing, as opposed that vintage, retro look,” Graham says. “I try to keep it to stuff that looks new but also has a classic T-shirt vibe.”

Green and checkerboard flag T-shirt from United State of Indiana.

Graham Brown/USI

USI designs its Indy 500 line at the beginning of each year, prints a big batch in April with The Shop’s help, and runs it during May to capitalize on people getting ready for the race. So far, its start-to-finish T-shirt, which has a green flag crossed with a checkered flag, has proven popular. So has a design with the phrase “My Heart is Racing.”

It’s a slogan USI and The Shop use each year in some way, placing it on a women’s shirt in 2017 because the design was more feminine.

Like The Shop, USI licenses its designs through the IMS. At some point in the near future, Graham hopes the Speedway will start to sell USI designs, too.

Back at The Shop, Hillary Brown saw traffic in and out of the store  picking up in the week leading up to qualifications.

“People are getting excited,” she says. “They want their shirts.”

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