WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence won't make it to this year's Indianapolis 500, but some of the race came to him Tuesday.
Pence visited with defending champion Will Power in his West Wing office in the morning.
In the evening, Pence and his wife made a surprise pit stop at the Indiana Society of Washington's annual party celebrating the iconic event.
"My staff sent me the list of invites for the week, and this was one of them," Karen Pence told the crowd of expatriate Hoosiers. "I think I surprised them when I said, 'Absolutely we’re going to that!' Are you kidding?"
Karen Pence used to serve on the society’s board, and Mike Pence regularly gave the invocation at the group's inauguration balls when he served in Congress.
When the Pence children were young, they would scramble in and out of the race car that often came out for the society’s race preview party.
There was no car this year. And, as Karen Pence pointed out, their children are now 24, 25 and 27.
But there were still plenty of Hoosiers munching on popcorn, mini hot dogs and Indiana-shaped cookies at the Capitol Hill event.
"It really brings Hoosier warmth to Washington, D.C.," the vice president said of the group.
And Pence's position of vice president — along with the many Hoosiers the Pences brought with them to work in the Trump administration — has elevated the Indiana Society's profile.
The group held a tribute dinner for the Pences last year, which also raised money for a long-planned project of improving Indiana Plaza, a half-acre section of land on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol.
Power was invited to Tuesday night's event but couldn't make it.
"Amazingly, he’s running into traffic in Washington, D.C.," Pence said.
During their White House meeting, Pence said, he told Power that when he visited Australia last year, he said how honored he was to be in the home country of the defending champion of the Indy 500.
"And everybody burst into applause," Pence remembered. "Will’s wife said to me today, 'I’ve got to get a tape of that video.'"
Indiana’s former governor has attended the Indy 500 more than 30 times. Karen Pence has gone even more often.
While the Pences won't be in Indianapolis to see if Power can win again this year, he said he'll be watching from long distance.
"I promise you," Pence said, "our hearts will be at the Speedway."
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Vice President Mike Pence makes pit stop at Indy 500 preview party