Getting Ready For Indy: An Itinerary For the 500

Wise GuidesCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 25:  Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, leads the pack with teammate Dan Wheldon, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, at the final re-start during the IRL IndyCar Series 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

“Race day” is really a misnomer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Devoted fans are on hand in the days and even weeks leading up to the race checking out qualifying and bonding with fellow fans. So, plan to arrive at least a day ahead of time and rent a spot for your vehicle on the lawn or driveway of someone in the neighborhood, and set up camp with the neighbors. It’s a wonderful IMS tradition that allows you to meet and party with locals and other race fans, all while a short walk from the track.


The IMS experience isn’t complete for many race fans without enjoying some of this Hoosier hospitality.


But be sure to walk around at some point to take in the tailgating scene that has sprouted up throughout the area. A little race talk and you’ll make fast friends and probably be offered a beer and something off the grill.


The infield at IMS is a giant party that’s definitely worth experiencing at least once, but if you’re really interested in the race it’s best to be in the grandstand. And if you can find seats on the front stretch and afford them, that’s the place to see the pageantry of the opening ceremonies and the start/finish line.


Wherever your seat is, make sure you find it in time to hear Back Home Again in Indiana, watch the balloon release and see and hear the rolling start to the race. It’s a moment not to be missed.


The highlight of IMS concessions is a Hoosier classic, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Try one.


If you need to stretch your legs during the race, walk over to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum, which is located inside the main gate and remains open on race day. It’s a treasure-trove of racing artifacts and information that even a casual fan will enjoy. Don’t stay too long, as the race beckons.