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History of the Snake Pit at IMS

The Indy 500 is right around the corner.  Not including the 100th running in 2016, the Indy 500 attendance has been on the rise from year to year, with 2018’s fan totals hitting the 300,000 mark. It appears that the crowd on May 26, 2019 will fall in line and be even bigger than last year’s total.

So what caused this surge in attendance?  

Well, something that sure helped it along was the re-introduction of the one of the biggest and best race parties you may ever see – The Snake Pit.  The Snake Pit is located in Turn 3 of the infield, and holds approximately 35K people each year. While it’s not recommended for individuals wanting to actually watch the race, this is the place to go if you are looking for the ultimate Sunday Funday.

snake pit crowd

While many have heard of the Snake Pit in recent years, not as many might know that it has actually been around since the 1950’s! Formally located in Turn 1 of the infield, the Snake Pit has always been a place at IMS that is laden with heavy alcohol consumption and rowdy behavior.

Throughout the years, there have been number of attempts at cutting off the heavy partying. In 1975, IMS allowed vehicles to park in the area in effort to take up space and disperse the crowd. Unfortunately, that did not work, as the crazy behavior continued to escalate, and in 1980 resulted in a fatality, as someone ran over a fan with their vehicle.

Officials had enough, and in 1981, infield bleachers were placed in Turn 1 and several upgrades were made in other areas of the infield, which cut the area down considerably. While, at first, this seemed to help, it was only a matter of time before the party was moved to a different area, Turn 4 of the infield to be exact. This “new” Snake Pit area did seem tamer, but only by a small margin, and when Tony George became the new head honcho, real changes were finally made.

George hired a large contingent of police enforcement to infiltrate the rowdy area, which tamed the crowd. Additionally, the track built a road course to that took up a lot of space in Turns 1 and 4 of the infield.  Finally, it seemed that the Snake Pit was a thing of the past, but so was the appeal to the younger crowd.

snake pit crowd distance

In 2010, new management made the decision to bring back the Snake Pit to draw in a new wave of Indy 500 fans. It would be located in Turn 3 of the infield, and would be a much more controlled environment. The new and improved Snake Pit was completed in time for the 2011 Indy 500, but was no longer be a free-for-all drunk fest. It was, instead, a concert featuring the popular EDM acts of Action Jackson, Andy and Annie Skinner, and Andy D.

Since its revival, the Snake Pit has continued to grow in popularity. The 2019 Snake Pit acts will include Skrillex, Alesso, Illenium and Chris Lake. All Snake Pit attendees must be 18 years or older, have a race day admission ticket and a Snake Pit wristband. Go to for more information.