Concerts. Porch Parties. Festivals. If you thought the Indianapolis 500 was just a race, you thought wrong. The entire month of a May is a celebration across the city with Indy-only events and traditions that must be experienced.
Action on the Track
Cars are on the track at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway for most of May. Whether or not you make it to the Indy 500, there are plenty of opportunities to see cars circle the famed speedway.
- INDYCAR Grand Prix: Saturday, May 11 - Start your Month of May engines with the INDYCAR Grand Prix, featuring the stars of the IndyCar Series on the IMS road course.
- Fast Friday: Friday, May 17 - The last day of time trials for the drivers. Many will show off their speed, going up to 230 mph!
- First Day Qualifying: Saturday, May 18
- Pole Day: Sunday, May 19 - Here’s where drivers can be “bumped” and removed from the starting grid of 33 cars by faster drivers. All cars race again to qualify, and the fastest nine qualifiers “race for the pole” in the Fast Nine Shootout.
- Carb Day: Friday, May 24 - Drivers are all qualified and the positions are set. This is the final practice session, and racers can tune their carburetors to the conditions (even though no qualified car has used one since 1963!). Now, the day includes a Pit Stop Competition and the Miller Lite Carb Day concert.
- Legends Day: Saturday, May 25 - Presented by Firestone, Legends Day honors the immortal names and machines of more than a century of racing tradition. Meet the drivers, get autographs, and witness historic 1960s IndyCars on the oval.
- Indy 500 Race Day: Sunday, May 26 - It’s dubbed “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for a reason. One action-packed day at the legendary IMS complete with 500 miles of exhilarating racing drama. All the excitement, all the qualifications, and all the action lead up to the 103rd Running of the Indy 500.
Win Tickets to Experience Indy in May
The Weekend Events
Indy 500 weekend culminates with a race, but there are many reasons to be a part of the fun. Music plays a big role with a concert lineup that spans country, classic rock and EDM. Family-friendly events, patriotic salutes, and all-out parties make it a can't miss weekend.
- 500 Festival Memorial Service: Friday, May 24 - Memorial Day is a time to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who perished while serving in the armed forces. The annual Memorial Service at the Indiana War Memorial is an opportunity to honor those who serve.
- Miller Lite Carb Day Concert: Friday, May 24 - The concert that follows the last practice session. Kool & The Gang and Foreigner are performing at this high-energy party, getting everyone excited for the weekend’s activities.
- IPL 500 Festival Parade: Saturday, May 25 - Celebrate! Hundreds of thousands of spectators line the streets of downtown Indy each year to see the pageantry and larger-than-life floats that bring even more color to the weekend.
- Firestone Legends Day and Concert: Saturday, May 25 - Paying homage to the great racing heroes of old, The Legends Day concert, featuring the Zac Brown Band, highlights the past and tradition of the Indy 500.
- Snake Pit: Sunday, May 26 - The ultimate party on race day, featuring EDM artists Skrillex, Alesso, Illenium, and Chris Lake.
- 103rd Running of the Indy 500: Sunday, May 26 - Be one of the 300,000 fans that flock to Indy each year for this legendary event. Get your tickets here.
The People of Indy 500 Weekend
There’s no specific make and model for Indy 500 fans. People come to the IMS from different states and countries, and for all different reasons.
- Family Tradition: The Indy 500 is one more “holiday” to add to the family-get-together list, with a lot more fun. Families have gotten together for Memorial Day for years, even decades, to keep up the tradition. Start your own tradition this year.
- Snake Pit-goer: If you like to party, the Snake Pit is for you. This race-day bash full of EDM concerts takes your racing experience to the next level – the 500 level.
- Race Enthusiast: For some, racing isn’t just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. Super-charged race fans flock from all over world – yes, the world! – for the fast-paced excitement and drama of the Indy 500. Find them with their headphones secure, their binoculars ready, and their notepads prepped to write down stats and figures throughout the day.
- Bucket Listers: Sometimes you have to see it to believe it. Never been to the Indy 500 before? There’s no time like the present.
- Experience Seekers: For those who are just looking to have a good time. There’s no one way to enjoy race day! Find what works for you when you go to the 103rd Running this May.
Infield Survival Guide
Planning for the Indy 500 requires a certain level of preparation. Here is your guide to surviving and getting the most out of the weekend.
- Sunscreen: This is a long day without any shade. Give your skin some love.
- BYOB: You can bring your own coolers with beverages of your choice, but keep in mind that glass containers are not allowed. Small coolers measuring no more than 18”x14”x14” will be permitted through the gate.
- Parking: There are many different options for parking, but all parked cars must have a pre-paid pass. If you’re parking in the Infield, you must enter through Gates 2 or 10. All vehicles are subject to search.
- Camping: RV and Tent Camping are available in Lot 1C.
- Fuel: Fried Chicken, sub sandwiches, and chips are always a good choice. WATER is going to be key. Keep in mind that there are no glass containers allowed through the gate.
For many race attendees, the pre-race rituals that build up to the start of the race and the post-race traditions are a key part of the Indy 500 experience.
- Military Fly-By: Memorial Day is a chance to honor our armed forces and it is a pre-race tradition for a military flyover during the playing of Taps.
God Bless America: Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady from the Brady Bunch) has sung "God Bless America" or "America the Beautiful" most every year since the mid-1990s. Henderson is an Indiana native and a good friend of the Hulman-George family, who own the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- Back Home Again in Indiana: Since 1946, singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" has been another pre-race tradition. The song was sung by Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) 30 times and has recently been sung by Chicago Blackhawks announcer Jim Cornelison.
- Drivers, Start Your Engines: A member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway board of directors, who is a member of the Hulman-George family, commands the33 cars firing up their engines.
- Drinking of the Milk: Since Louis Meyer drank buttermilk in Victory Lane after winning the 1936 race, winners have celebrated with a cold bottle of milk.
- Kissing the Bricks: In 1909, the speedway was paved with 3.2 million bricks. Today, a 36-inch strip of the original bricks remains intact and "kissing the bricks" has been a tradition at IMS since NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett first did so in 1996.
- Borg-Warner Trophy: This iconic trophy was unveiled in 1936 and features bas-relief sculptures of every race winner.
World's Largest For a Reason
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest sporting venue for a reason – it has to fit 300,000 people in a single day! But did you know just how big the facility is? Big enough that it fits these eight legendary venues inside its oval.
- Vatican City
- Yankee Stadium
- The White House
- Liberty Island
- Taj Mahal
- Roman Colosseum
- Rose Bowl Stadium
- Churchhill Downs
Racing Through the Ages
In 1909, the builders of the IMS knew they wanted a space for unparalleled, exciting racing. The first Indy 500 race was in 1911, and this Memorial Day tradition has brought racing fans and bucket-listers to Indy 103 times – and counting. Though the race has gone through many changes, the love of racing and Hoosier pride have remained steadfast through the decades. Immerse yourself in the history of race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
Reasons to Return
The month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is packed with events, but it isn't the only month of action. Come back to Indy for one of these events adrenaline-fueled events.
- Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational: August 3-4 - More than 300 of the world’s most exceptional vintage race cars will compete in 12 different Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) classes on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at IMS
- Driven2SaveLives BC39: Thursday, September 5 - The best short-track racers in America will compete in the richest USAC Midget National Championship race on the quarter-mile clay oval inside Turn 3.
- Indiana 250: Saturday, September 7 - The top young stars of the future in NASCAR will take on some of the biggest names in the sport to see who will "Kiss the Bricks" in one of the biggest races of the Xfinity Series.
- Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard: Sunday, September 8 - The 26th edition of the historic race sets the stage for the playoffs and serves as the crowning event for NASCAR’s regular season championship.
- Indy Women in Tech Championship: September 26-29 - The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) take on Brickyard Crossing, which includes four holes inside the track, in a tournament featuring a full field of 144 players competing for a $2 million purse.
- Red Bull Air Race: October 19-20 - Experience full-throttle aerial racing on a unique course inside the iconic IMS oval designed to push the best pilots in the world to their limits.