Once a year, over Memorial Day weekend, some 300,000+ racing fans make the pilgrimage to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for the largest single-day sporting event in the world. The Indy 500 has long defined the hallowed ground of the Speedway, but there are plenty of ways beyond the race to experience IMS.
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.
- 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500: May 30, 2021 - Thirty-three drivers. 200 laps. 500 miles. One bottle of cold milk. The only thing missing from this magical Indianapolis 500 mix is you. Don't miss out on another incredible edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
- IndyCar Grand Prix: May 15, 2021 - Kick-off the month of May at IMS with the stars of the IndyCar series taking on the twists and turns of the road course at IMS.
- IndyCar August Race: August 14, 2021 - The stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will return to the Racing Capital of the World Saturday, Aug. 14 for another action-packed race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course.
- NASCAR 2021 Cup Series: August 15, 2021 - NASCAR’s best will lay it all on the line to become the first NASCAR Cup Series winner on the IMS road course.
The 500 Festival
The month of May in Indy includes a full slate of events put on by the 500 Festival to get fans, and the city, excited in the build-up to the big race. Below are a few highlights of virtual events for 2021:
- Mini-Marathon – Now through May 23, join 500 Festival for the virtual Mini-Marathon, access digital resources, and received t-shirts and finisher medals.
- Kids Day/Rookie Run – This year, an online interactive Kids’ Day Map will go live on May 15, where families and kids will have the opportunity to visit educational booths and follow along with entertaining videos.
- Memorial Service – While we celebrate racing, the city doesn’t forget the significance of Memorial Day as a weekend to remember the sacrifices made by men and women who perished while serving our country.
- "Reverse" Parade – The porch parties and checkered flags that nod to the Indy 500 are getting a boost this year with the 500 Festival’s reimagined AES Parade. The 500 Spectacle of Homes encourages fans to participate in the city-wide celebration by decorating their yards and homes in race-themed fashion, similar to many of the floats featured in the traditional parade. On Saturday, May 29, a “Reverse Parade” rounds out the celebration, with the 33 drivers forming a caravan around Indy’s downtown and local neighborhoods.
With over a century of stories to tell, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum has no shortage of content and is open year-round for visitors. Here is what you can expect:
- Historic Cars – The museum’s collection encompasses race cars from many series, including IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula 1, Sprint, Midget, Motorcycles, and drag racing.
- Grounds Tour – Take a lap around the track, stop at Pagoda Plaza, stand on the famous Yard of Bricks at the start-finish line, cruise through gasoline alley while learning about the history of the track.
- Speaker Series – Hear, and participate, in interviews with racing legends ranging from Tony Stewart to Scott Dixon to Sam Schmidt.
- Special Exhibits – Enjoy temporary exhibits like "Rocket Rick Mears presented by Racemaker Press" and permanent exhibits including Tony Hulman Theatre, a racing-themed fine art gallery, and a photo car that lets visitors climb behind the wheel of a real race car.
While in Speedway
The city of Speedway has grown around IMS, and Main Street is home to great restaurants and attractions to keep you entertained.
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
Fun Facts & Traditions
There is a lot of lore associated with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500. Below is a sampling of what makes this track and this race so unique.
- Pre-Race Ceremonies: Patriotism and pride take center stage before the race with an invocation, a stirring playing of “Taps,” and then the singing of “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” "The Star-Spangled Banner," and “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
- Start Your Engines: A member of the Hulman-George family (track owners) gives the starting command by saying “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Of course, with the advent of women drivers, that command has been modified to “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines.”
- Kiss the Bricks: This rather young tradition was forged by Dale Jarrett after winning the 1996 Brickyard 400. Since then, the tradition of kissing the exposed “Yard of Bricks” has been shared by winning drivers and their teams. The track was once entirely paved with 3.2 million bricks with this one strip being all that remains today.
- Drink the Milk: In 1936, Louis Meyer asked for a glass of buttermilk following his victory. The ritual eventually became a tradition with the American Dairy Association presenting the winning driver with a cold bottle of milk that many opt to both sip and pour on themselves.
- Golf: Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, part of Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail, includes four holes inside of the famed speedway. Brickyard Crossing has been home to Senior PGA events and is currently home to the Indy Women in Technology LPGA Championship.