Indianapolis 500 Event Guide
Each year since 1911, Memorial Day weekend has become synonymous with the Indianapolis 500 at the famed racetrack, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Throughout the summer, eager NASCAR and IndyCar fans pour into the stands in Speedway, Indiana, to satisfy their need for speed in the hot sun.
Certainly the exhilarating racing events are the biggest draw to the Motor Speedway. The track is home to the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. Fans who visit the celebrated track can feast their eyes on the brickyard where almost 140 of the sport's top racers have claimed victory since 1909.
The Indianapolis 500 is the oldest and one of the most significant events in the world of motorsports, giving fans a lesson in history, as well as access to up-close views of today's top racers.
Those who have followed the storied saga of the Indy 500 can tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway facility and gain an appreciation for the past that made today's races possible. Fans can stand on the infield and see the spot where a hot air balloon race launched in June 1909, when the racetrack first opened.
While each of the Motor Speedway's main events take place on a Sunday afternoon, camp grounds open days in advance to give fans the opportunity to spend a long weekend of fun in the sun.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world's largest spectator facility, inviting guests from all over the country to take part in the unique traditions of racing culture. If the seat boards from the grandstand were laid end-to-end, they would reach 99.5 miles. In addition, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City can all fit inside the racetrack's oval. With such a large capacity, camping at any of the Speedway's Events becomes an event in itself.
Fans are invited to park their cars, trucks or RVs in one of the facility's several lots, most of which are situated off of Georgetown Road. RV spaces measure approximately 20 feet by 40 feet, and tent spaces span 20 feet by 20 feet.
Beginning at 7 a.m. on the Thursday of race weekend, fans are allowed to pitch their tents and camp out all day, if they so desire. Lots 2, 3 and 4 will give you a family environment, lot 1A is reserved for more festive campers and lot 1C comes with a 21-years-old or older suggestion. Patrons of events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are free to cook up their favorite fare on small portable grills, under the cover of portable shelters no larger than 10 feet by 10 feet.
Guests can take a break from the grill to stop in at the Indianapolis Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which is located right on the grounds of the racetrack. From here, visitors can beat the heat for a quick bite in the air-conditioned snack shops, or line up for a bus tour of the 2.5 mile racing oval.
About 75 vehicles are on display in the museum at any given time, including the Marmon Wasp, which won the first Indianapolis 500, four two-time winning cars - the Boyle Maserati and the Blue Crown Spark Plug Special - and more than 30 other cars that took the checkered flag at the Indy 500.
Fans on a self-led tour should be sure to stop by the Pagoda - one of the most famous structures at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Pagoda tower, located on the start and finish line, measures 153 feet in height and contains nine different viewing levels. Race control, safety, timing, scoring and radio broadcast booths are all located within the unique building.
Construction of the Pagoda was completed in 2000, replacing two wooden structures that served a similar purpose since 1913.
Other tour highlights include the track's Media Center, Victory Podium, Gasoline Alley and the Yard of Bricks. Though the track has been paved with asphalt several times, a 36-inch span of the track's original brick surface - the Yard of Bricks - was kept at the track's start and finish line.
Guests can follow in the tradition of NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett, who in 1996 celebrated a Brickyard 400 victory by kneeling and kissing the historic brick surface.