101st Running Of Indianapolis Motor Speedway At The Brickyard
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Blogger
Photos By Jack Fleming
It has the names: Mears, Unser, Foyt, Penske.
The calls: “Andretti is slowing.”
Plus music, a live festival atmosphere, half a million people and powerful race cars.
History & Tradition At The Indy
The Indy 500 – America’s Great Race – has its 100th running on Sunday, May 26 in 2019, and it’s an event that blends tradition with a modern touch.
The tradition is the cars and the bricks that make up the start-finish line. The modern touch is Skrillex leading a trio of electronic DJs in the infield’s Snakepit.
The field of drivers includes pole sitter Simon Pagenaud of Penske Racing. Last year’s winner, also of Penske Racing, is Will Power (yes, that’s his real name).
There’s two ways to attend “the Indy,” one is from the grandstands and the other is from the infield.
So where’s the best place to watch the action at Indy?
Some people prefer the grandstands, if for no other reason they can actually watch the race. From your seat, you can see at least the front half of the track; the venue is so huge it’s pretty much impossible to see the backstraight unless you are in a skybox.
Two top viewing spots are in Turn 1 and Turn 4; the latter is where cars are likely to get tangled up after restarts and as the race is winding down, and the latter is where a lot of the passing is set up, which happens along the front straight.
Grandstand tickets start at $50.
The infield ($30, plus $25 for the Snakepit) is for the college ages or those who mentally have never left college. Or just want to hang out and drink beer out of a cooler all day. In many ways, it’s a late-May version of the Kentucky Derby.
People still do hang out elsewhere than in the Snakepit – primarily in Turn 4 – but this isn’t the 60s and 70s, when women bared their breasts for the adoring crowd. Many people roll up in pickups (or SUVs,) flip down the tailgate and make an all-day picnic of it as if they were at the lake.
Overall, the infield is a late-May version of the Kentucky Derby.
It is important to note that you can bring coolers with food and drinks into the Speedway (no larger than 18 X 14 X 14) and if you park in the infield, you can even bring in a keg! You can bring in cans of beer, too, but not bottles. Ice is not sold in the infield.
On the eve of the race there’s no shortage of places to take the party equivalent of a warm-up lap. Downtown Indy has dozens of good bars and the area of town known as Broadripple is where the city’s young and thirsty go to play, as well as being a hangout for students from Butler University.
One of the top places for social gathering is the White River Yacht Club, which has hosted a Saturday night party for 30+ years. The scene at 16th and Georgetown is a destination for 20s and 30s partiers.
For those who want to party in the infield before race day, Carb Day on Friday is the better call; people blow off work and go there to rev up for the weekend.
There’s a concert that day by Train in Turn 4 from 3:15-4:15 p.m., followed by the Blues Traveler 4:30-6:30 ($30 entry fee, which includes the concert). On Saturday, dubbed Firestone Legend’s Day, there’s a concerts by Sam Hunt (3:30-6).
On race day, in order to maximize this grand event, it is very important to arrive early. The speedway is located just outside of Indianapolis and access to it is very limited. The wait to get into the venue is large, and only increases with time.
Gates open at 6 a.m., and the green flag is at 12:20 p.m. The race ends at about 3:30 and the gates close at 6 p.m.