The Greatest Spectacle in Racing
The century-old Indy 500 is called the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for good reason. It is the largest single-day sporting event in the world and annually attracts over 300,000 fans to the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) to revel in tradition while cheering on the elite open-wheel drivers of the NTT IndyCar Series. Since the inaugural race in 1911, the Indy 500 has captured the hearts of race fans while driving automotive and racing innovation as the epicenter of racing in America. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a year-round attraction located on the grounds of IMS that allows visitors to relive the rich history and unique traditions that make the Indy 500 a Bucket List experience.
Race Day in Indy
Race day in Indianapolis is steeped in tradition. Each Memorial Day weekend the mammoth facility and surrounding town of Speedway welcome spectators from around the world to revel in a day of patriotism, spine-tingling racing, and a whole lot of partying (particularly within the infield and the infamous Snake Pit).
Visitors camp and tailgate in lots and backyards in the adjacent neighborhoods. Once fans make the pilgrimage through the gates at IMS, pre-race ceremonies include stirring renditions of God Bless America, The Star Spangled Banner, and a stoic playing of Taps in remembrance of the soldiers who gave their lives for freedom. Back Home Again in Indiana is a crowd favorite that pays homage to the Hoosier state. After the flyover and invocation, it is time for the most famous words in racing: “Drivers, start your engines!”
The sound of 33 cars firing up their engines means it is time to race. After the green flag drops drivers battle for 200 laps around the 2.5-mile oval for the opportunity to claim immortality as an Indy 500 champion. Winners and their cars are lifted on the winners’ podium and the champion is adorned with a floral wreath before chugging a ceremonial bottle of milk. The winner kisses the famed bricks and has their likeness sculpted to adorn the Borg Warner Trophy.
Plan Your Visit
Tickets to the Indy 500 can be purchased through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway box office and their seasoned experts can guide you to the right seat for your needs. Plan for early morning arrival to navigate traffic and find parking in nearby lots and yards. By 10:30 am the starting grid is lined up and shortly thereafter pre-race traditions begin until the green flag drops at 12:45 pm. The race generally lasts about three hours. While some seats are shaded, sunscreen is recommended. Spectators are allowed to bring coolers with food. Food and beverage are also available to buy on site. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers accessibility services, and wheelchair accessible golf carts are available for transporting guests.