Beginners Guide to the Track: It’s May Y’all!


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! You’re probably looking at your calendar and thinking, Indianapolis Moms got their days mixed up. It’s not the “holiday season.” Oh, we got it right, and it’s May in Indianapolis, which means it’s the magical month of May! Now, I get irrationally excited about May and run into a lot of people saying it is just cars going fast around the track. To that I say, you just haven’t experienced the magic! I know it can be a little intimidating, a 2.5-mile track in the middle of our city, with cars that go over 200 mph. So, I’m here to make it a little less scary and give you a beginner’s guide to the track. By the end of this post, you will be adding an IMS flag to your cart, following Josef Newgarden on Instagram, and blocking your calendar for all the track fun in May. 

The track is my happy place. One of my fondest memories was going to the Indy 500 with my Grandma Linda. She loved the track. She packed a cooler, made us sandwiches, and we cheered on Sara Fisher. Now that Grandma is gone, that memory will always stick with me and I always feel close to her when I’m at the track. I’ve become an avid IndyCar fan, so much so that I bought a house in Speedway so I could be even closer to the magic, I have several IndyCar tattoos, and I count down the days until May 1st (#IsItMayYet?,  If you know, you know).

Now, I might take it to the extreme, and I will not apologize for that! You, however, may be a novice in the ways of May, so here we go, the beginners’ guide to the track in May and all things IndyCar. 

Get acclimated with the drivers.

The races are way more fun when you are invested in the humans in the cars. Turn on Netflix and search for “100 Days to Indy.” After this series, even though it was for last year, you will be fully up to speed on most of the drivers! The new season has also just started, and episodes air on the CW. If you are on the socials, follow @IndyCar and @IndianapolisMotorSpeedway on the gram. This is a good first step; I promise you can do it. 

General things to know about IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway for my beginners)

  • Are you ready for your mind to be blown? For all the events, you can bring a cooler with food and booze. You read that right. There are some limitations with cooler sizes and other items, so just make sure you check the IMS website for the list of items you can bring. But how great is that?!
  • Kids 15 and under are free with a paying adult! Mind-blown again, right? The track is very family-friendly, so let’s bring those kiddos and make some early-race fans. 
  • Event tickets—Reserved tickets are bleacher tickets (I prefer those), or you can do general admission, which are the infield tickets. If you are in the infield, that’s also great, and you can bring chairs with you or even get parking passes to park right in the middle of the track. If you have any questions about tickets, call the IMS ticket office, and they are super helpful!

There is more IndyCar action than just the 500

I am an extrovert through and through, and the thought of over 300 thousand people in one spot is exhilarating to me. I have learned that not all humans are built this way, which is fine! Most people think the only thing to do is go to the very people-y Indy 500, but there is so much more! 

Indy 500 Practice and Qualifications (Practice May 14-17 and Qualifications May 18-19): Practice, Fast Friday, and Qualifications are all much less people-y and would be a really great introduction to both IMS and IndyCar. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and we have been taking them to Qualifications since they were little. It is low-key. Qualifications could involve a lot of action and be less people-y. This is how I introduced my two boys to the track, and I take them to Qualifications every year. There is a steady stream of cars on the track to keep everyone’s attention, a lot of things to see and do in the infield to get out of your seats and experience the track, and again, much less people-y.

500 Festival Parade (May 25th): Technically not at the track, but also a really great way to be part of the action if you aren’t ready to take on IMS. You can purchase tickets for reserved bleacher seat or just show up and get a street spot! The parade is held through the streets of downtown and is a great family event.

The Greatest Spectacle in Racing

The Indianapolis 500 (May 26th): This may not be for “beginners,” but it’s the big day, so I had to add it in the beginner’s guide to the track in case you are feeling up for the best day of your life challenge! The biggest one-day sporting event in the world. Let that sit with you for a second. Our beloved Indy has been the home of this event for over 100 years. It’s my favorite day of the year. Here are a few quick tips because I could write an entire post on this day. Get there early (like 7 am early), pack your patience, and just enjoy the day. Is it a lot of people? Yes, it is, but oh my goodness, it is a blast! Will it take you a little while to get home after the race? Yes, but worth it! You will have witnessed another great racing event in the racing capital of the world. 

Happy May, Indianapolis Moms! 


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