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.
- 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500: May 24, 2020 - 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, 2020 - 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.
- Bloomington Gold Corvettes: June 2020 - The longest running all-Corvette event in the country, with activities, fast laps, autocross, and laps on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational: August 2020 - 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: September 2020 - 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: September 2020 - 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: September 2020 - The 27th edition of the historic race sets the stage for the playoffs and serves as the crowning event for NASCAR’s regular season championship.
Racing at IMS is more than a race. It’s an experience. Music has become integral to that experience with concerts before, and even during, races.
- Carb Day – The Friday before the Indy 500 brings classic rock bands to the speedway with a history of acts including Foreigner, Janes Addiction, Journey, and Kid Rock.
- Legends Day – The Saturday before the Indy 500 brings the best of country music to IMS with acts including Zach Brown Band, Keith Urban, and Blake Shelton.
- The Snake Pit – EDM vibrates from the infield as American-flag adorned party-goers pulse to DJs ranging from Skrillex and Illenium to Marchmello.
- FGL Fest – The day before the Brickyard 400 is a star-studded concert headlined by Florida Georgia Line and featuring performances by Dan + Shay, Nelly, and more.
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:
- Mini-Marathon – One of the largest mini marathons in the country starts downtown and takes runners to the speedway, around the famed track, and back again. The flat, fast course is packed with entertainment.
- Kids Day/Rookie Run – Indiana’s largest free outdoor festival takes over Monument Circle with a carnival atmosphere and includes a fun run for kids 3-10.
- 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.
- Parade – The third largest parade in the country (just behind the Tournament of Roses and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade) fills the streets of downtown Indianapolis with over 300,000 people, larger-than-life floats, giant helium balloons, celebrities and dignitaries, and all 33 drivers competing in the Indy 500.
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 (don’t be shy, give them a kiss), 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 “Mario Andretti: ICON” 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.