8 Reasons Why You Have to Attend the 100th Running of the Indy 500

There's a lot more to it than "Gentlemen, start your engines."

We don’t think you need a reason to attend this year’s 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, May 29) presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, but in case you do, we’re giving you eight. USA Today ranked the Indianapolis 500 as a "Best Bucket List Sports Event," so make sure to cross it off your bucket list.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway—560 acres (including a golf course) and 2-1/2 miles of track.

Reason 1: The race is the largest single-day sporting event on the planet.

There are big games and races on the sports calendar, but the “500” stands alone for sheer volume of humanity. Well over a quarter-million fans fill the hulking grandstands and massive infield in Indy every Memorial Day weekend, a crowd that’s hard to comprehend until you’re walking amongst it.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Reason 2: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway must be seen to be believed.

You might know that the famous oval is 2.5 miles around, but exactly how big is that? The Vatican City, Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum, the Taj Mahal and the White House could all fit inside the oval—with room left over to park some cars.

Reason 3: Music lovers are welcome, too.

Sure, the Indy 500 is a racing weekend—but it has also become a major concert event. Friday’s “Carb Day” will feature Journey in the infield, then Country Superstar Blake Shelton, Chris Janson and Corey Cox will rock the stage on Saturday for Legends Day presented by Firestone. On Race Day, the younger fans rock the “Snake Pit” in the infield with heart-pulsating EDM sounds.

Reason 4: There’s a very big parade.

The three biggest parades in America are the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade and—drum roll—the IPL 500 Festival Parade, on the day before the race. All 33 drivers appear on the downtown parade route and, for this 100th edition of the race, a few cool surprises are in store.

Indiana World War Memorial
The city of Indianapolis is only six miles from the track, and it's definitely worth a couple extra days of urban exploration.

Reason 5: There’s plenty to do around town.

If you’re not the oil-soaked type to spend the entire weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then Indianapolis beckons with much more. There are great museums from the NCAA Hall of Champions to the world-class Indianapolis Children’s Museum, cool pedestrian areas such as the canal and White River State Park and, since we’re talking Memorial Day Weekend, more acreage dedicated to war memorials than anywhere outside Washington, D.C.

St. Elmo's Shrimp Cocktail
It's legendary, so make a reservation early.

Reason 6: St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail.

Ask anyone from Indy for one food tip and most will point you to St. Elmo’s Steak House downtown for the sinus-clearing shrimp cocktail. Reservations are tough to come by over race weekend but that’s because it’s the best place in town to catch celebrities and Indy 500 stars past and present.

Pre-race flyover at Indy 500
The pre-race is (almost) as good as race.

Reason 7: The pre-race activities are spectacular.

The Indianapolis 500 is known as the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," and that’s in part because of the pre-race festivities. Honoring the military is paramount with the playing of “Taps,” a flyover and hundreds of active armed servicemen and women marching on the track. There is also a band spectacle and balloon spectacle (they’re big on spectacles). Add in the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” “God Bless America” and the National Anthem, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dry eye in the house.

Indianapolis 500 auto race
If we all could drive 500 miles in less than three hours, airlines might be out of business.

Reason 8: And, of course, the race is incredible.

After all those pre-race activities, the green flag finally falls with 33 cars (always in 11 rows of three) speeding off at more than 220 mph in front of more than a quarter-million fans. The words “TV doesn’t do it justice” are applicable. About three hours and 500 miles later, a champion is crowned with a wreath and a cold bottle of milk. And then the countdown begins for the next Indy 500.

Seats to this once-in-a-lifetime event will be hard to come by, so grab them fast. Visit ims.com for more information on the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and other events at the Racing Capital of the World.

Watch: The 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil Super Bowl Commercial 




Produced and sponsored by IMS: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

(All photos courtesy IMS)