The Indianapolis 500 is the single-largest sporting event that takes place (and it takes place every year!). The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does not disclose how many people attend the race each year, but the permanent seating alone can hold 250,000 people. It is estimated that over 400,000 people attend The Greatest Spectacle in Racing every year!
As you know, I am one of those people. I lovegoing to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but nothing beats Race Day. Thirty-three cars, starting in 11 rows of 3, for 500 miles. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Race day is a long day. My family stays in a hotel in Indianapolis the night before. We get up at 3 AM, leave the hotel by 4 or 4:30, and get to our parking spot by 5 or 5:15. If you don’t go that early, you will be sitting in traffic on 16thStreet for hours.
The track opens to the public at 6 AM. After we get inside and get our stuff situated in our seats, my mom and I generally go exploring. We go down to Turn One, where you can actually stand on the track and look down the front stretch. I have included a picture from the spot from last year. It’s amazing to think that just a few short hours later, the drivers are going 228 mph+ right where you stand.
After snapping some pictures on the track, we check out the merchandise stands. I always end up buying something at the track, even though I always say I’m not going to. Then we watch the Parade of the Bands at our seats and talk to each other until the fanfare of the race begins.
We sit directly under the flag stand at the yard of bricks. We have a front row seat (literally) to all of the excitement that takes place before the race. We watch the servicemen and servicewomen travel the track in trucks, cheer on drivers from previous eras during the parade laps, take a moment of silence after “Taps” and sing along to “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the National Anthem.
When the famous words are spoken (Ladies and Gentlemen- start your engines!”) it is impossible to contain your excitement. The environment of 400,000 waiting anxiously for the race to begin is electrifying! When the green flag drops, the entire crowd is up on their feet, cheering over the roar of the engines!
My favorite part of the 500 is the tradition. The entire race (and Speedway itself) is grounded in its rich history. My family has created our own traditions, which I cherish. I always say, Race Day is my Christmas. (And you all know how much I love Christmas!)
Enjoy the long weekend! Take some time to rest, and, if you feel the urge, tune into the race. It is well worth it!