“It’s amazing to look out and see people as far as we can see. You guys are beautiful,” Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard told the crowd of more than 40,000 gathered at turn four of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday night, on the eve of the 99th Indy 500. Frankie Ballard and Thomas Rhett opened the Legends Day concert presented by Firestone.
“It means a lot to us to play here,” Hubbard told Rolling Stone Country before taking the stage. “There’s good energy, and the Indy 500 is such a historic thing. This is only the second country concert to happen the night before the race. It’s an honor. And I’ve never been to the Indy 500, so its something I can mark off my bucket list.”
Though the concert crowd obviously included a huge contingent of diehard FGL fans, there were also Indy enthusiasts just bent on celebrating auto racing’s biggest event. “Everybody is a music fan,” Kelley says. “They may be new to our music, but they aren’t new to entertainment or having a good time. We’re here to celebrate life and celebrate good music, country music.”
Hubbard was looking forward to seeing the Indy race for the first time. “I’m just excited for a good race,” he says, admitting he wasn’t pulling for a specific driver. “I don’t really follow it enough. We’ve been so busy the last few years, it’s hard to follow any sport too closely. But I know our name is on one of the cars, the Big Machine [FGL’s record label] car, so I’m gonna pull for that one.”
“If Scott Borchetta was racing, he’d win,” Kelley insists of the CEO of Big Machine Label Group and American Idol mentor, who previously raced cars.
Hubbard and Kelley themselves are no strangers to speed. “It was on a sport bike and I actually have driven 180 mph before,” Hubbard says. “I only did it once and I didn’t get caught. It was way out in the country in Georgia. Me and my buddy had a sport bike and we used to be kind of dumb. Luckily, we’re still alive.”
So what’s Kelley’ top speed? “Not that fast,” he says shaking his head at Hubbard’s revelation. “But I’ve done 110 to 120 mph in a car back in high school in Florida on some back roads by the baseball field.”
Both Kelley and Hubbard were honored to perform at the famous speedway. “The fact that we’re here headlining is a big deal and we’re very humbled by that,” Kelley shares. “We came to celebrate and we’re thankful for our fans showing up to party. We have a lot of things in common: We all like fast cars, good music and cold beer!”