Do you hear that distant rumbling of car engines on the track? Do you hear the hum of happy, excited voices in the air? Do you feel that buzz of energy and excitement all around you? That’s because May is here, and May means “racing season” in Indiana.
May 29th will bring us all Back Home Again Sunday, with the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and we can hardly wait!
Still, the weeks to go can feel endless when you’re waiting for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing to get started. Here are some of the events that you can use to fill the time and get your fix:
OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon – May 7th
Nicknamed “The Greatest Spectacle in Running,” the Indy Mini is an epic way to start the OneAmerica 500 Festival. Named among “America’s Most Iconic Races” by Runners World, this race draws folks from all 50 states and more than 15 countries every single year.
With IndyCar drivers leading the waves of runners, walkers and wheelchair users in pace cars that will be appearing in the Indy 500, this race starts out in the heart of Indianapolis and features a lap around the IMS track. (Participants also get a chance to kiss the bricks in the Brickyard, and feel what it’s like to stand where so many racing legends have stood before.)
GMR Grand Prix – May 14th
If you’re ready to get down to racing, the GMR Grand Prix 2022 will help you shift into gear pretty quickly. Since 2014, the GMR Grand Prix has been used as a lead-up to the Indy 500. If your passion for racing is making it hard to hold off until the Indy 500, you can get a taste of the action at the Grand Prix.
Folks that can’t make the date can still get tickets for the GMR Grand Prix Practice & Qualifying event, which takes place the day before, on May 13. Both events are uniquely affordable (tickets start at $20 for the practice event and $25 for the actual race), and they give you a chance to get closer to your favorite racing stars than ever.
Kids’ Day – May 15th
Are you looking for a family-friendly event that you can use to introduce your youngest children to the joys of racing? Never fear – Kid’s Day is almost here!
The Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day is totally free and totally kid-oriented. It includes all kinds of educational displays, interactive exhibits, dancing classes, drumming workshops and a chance to race mini cars. There’s even a 500 Festival Fitness Zone & Obstacle Course for older kids who like a challenge – while the littlest ones (ages three to 10) can participate in the Rookie Run. There are goodie bags, medals for those who finish and tons more to see in this carnival-like display of racing excitement.
Indianapolis 500 Practice – May 17th to May 19th
Maybe you want a sneak peak at the racers and their performance this year, or maybe you just can’t wait until the end of the month to get your racing fix. Either way, you can experience all the sights, sounds and thrills of the Brickyard while you watch the racers push their cars – and themselves to the maximum limits during the Indy 500 practice sessions.
The best part of attending practice events is that they’re very affordable, especially for families. Kids under 15 years of age get in free with a paying adult, and tickets are just $15.
Indianapolis 500 Fast Friday – May 20th
Fast Friday is the final practice session at the Brickyard before pole day qualifying, and the drivers and their teams get intense. Typically, you’ll see the fastest speeds of the season on this day (which is how the date gets its name), so the action can be both thrilling and somewhat frightening.
The practice charts can help you guess who will end up in the front row for the Indy 50, and give you a fantastic preview of the main event to come, so if you can attend only one practice event, make this the one!
PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying – May 21st to May 22nd
The Indy 500 pole qualifying event will be a little different this year, since the process is being split into two rounds. Positions 13-33 will be doled out on May 21, but folks will have to wait until May 22 to see who claims the top spots.
Day two of the qualifying race will see the 12 fastest drivers attempt to get the fastest four-lap average to claim a better pole position on May 29. Once the six drivers for the third and fourth rows have been chosen, the six fastest drivers will face off in a final qualifying session. Each hopes to claim the pole spot (along with the $100,000 prize money and that all-important 12-point lead in the IndyCar standings), so you can bet the excitement and tension will be incredible.
American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service – May 26th
Despite all the buzz, the importance of honoring the sacrifices of the men and women who have died in the service of their nation isn’t forgotten. In fact, for more than 60 years, the American Legion 500 Festival Memorial Service has brought folks in Indianapolis together just for that purpose.
Services begin at 4 p.m. on the north side of the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indy, and will include performances by the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Infantry Division Band and the Capital City Chorus, among other things.
AES 500 Festival Parade – May 28th
Finally, the day before the Indy 500 itself, there’s the AES 500 Festival Parade. Rivaling the grandeur and pageantry of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or the parade for the Tournament of Roses, you don’t want to miss this show.
Roughly 300,000 people are expected to turn out to see the giant helium balloons, the floats, the band performances and the 33 drivers lucky enough to be competing this year in the Indy 500.
Can’t visit Speedway in person for one or more of the events you want to see? Don’t sweat it: Many of the events will be broadcast live on NBC, and Peacock Premium (NBCUniversal’s own streaming service) will carry all the major races plus practices and qualifying runs. You can grab a few snacks, some suds from your favorite local brewery and your best buds, and enjoy the show from the comfort of your own home.