Whether you’re a NASCAR fan or an IndyCar fan, you’ve probably seen the famous logo on commercials, magazines, and even on merchandise at the stores in the infield. It’s a well-known logo that represents one of the most iconic events in US motorsports – the Indianapolis 500. Now, more than ever, it’s important to ask if alcohol is permitted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Let’s take a look.
Has Alcohol Always Been Permitted At Indy?
While alcohol has been served at Indy since the track first opened in 1911, it wasn’t until 1985 that organizers officially allowed fans to bring their drink inside the race track. Previously, drinking had taken place outside the track in the days leading up to the big race. Fans would walk around the track holding signs that said things like ‘Drink Me’ and ‘Beer Me’ as they waited for the green flag to wave them on. During the race, fans would lean over the wall and try to catch a buzz from the spotters on the checkered flag stand. Now, drinking is strictly prohibited at any track day, practice, or qualifying session.
Are There Any Regulations On Alcohol Sales At Indy?
Since 1985, the sale of alcohol at Indy has been regulated by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. As an athletic event, the Indianapolis 500 was granted a waiver by the commission to allow for the sale of alcohol during the race. That waiver is still in effect today, allowing alcohol to be sold during the Indy 500, Super Bowl, and NCAA Final Four. The sale of alcohol at other times during the year, including the rest of the Indy 500 race weeks, is still restricted by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.
What About Outside Areas Of The Track?
Aside from the area inside the track, there are also a number of areas surrounding it that are officially designated as ‘Fan Zones’. These are areas where you can bring your drink cans and take in the sights and sounds of the track. You can also sit down and relax with a book or magazine and maybe even get a photo taken with a famous race car driver. Is alcohol allowed in these areas? You bet it is! Outside of the track, drinking is also allowed in bars and restaurants that are proximal to the track. They must be located within sight, sound, and smell of the track and must serve alcohol.
When Do You Start Drinking At Indy?
As we just mentioned, you can drink at bars and restaurants that are within sight, sound, and smell of the track. However, the best way to enjoy a drink at Indy is still at the finish line – whether it’s the winner’s circle or just outside of it. When the checkered flag waves, the celebration begins and the happy hour crowds flock to the area. There is no specific time when drinking starts at Indy; it really depends on what time of day it is and what area you plan on drinking in.
Are There Any Bans On Having Alcohol At Indy?
Yes, in addition to the drinking regulations we mentioned, Indy also has specific bans on other forms of alcohol. For example, you can’t bring beer or wine to the track. You can bring spirit and cocktails to the track, but not other forms of alcohol (i.e. wine, beer, and so on). Those are all still banned. Fortunately, you can bring a can or bottle of wine or a six-pack to the restaurant zones and bars that are located around the track.
Although alcohol has always been allowed at Indy, these laws and regulations protect the integrity of the event and keep things fun and safe for everybody involved. As you might guess, people who work at Indy are dedicated to maintaining the tradition of a ‘dry’ race track and keeping everything ‘family friendly’. The organizers and staff at Indy are committed to making sure everybody has a good time and that everybody respects the rules and regulations.
It’s important to note that even though alcohol has always been permitted at Indy, the venue does have a no-tolerance policy towards illicit drugs and substances. You can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor if you are found using or possessing illegal drugs and/or alcohol near the track. If you are caught drinking on the streets, you will most likely be cited and have to appear in court.
What About Transportation To And From The Track?
If you want to take a break from drinking and head to the track, how will you get there? You can walk, take a taxi, or join the line of cars waiting for the shuttles to the starting line. The last option isn’t exactly private car ownership, so if you want to get rid of the cops then that’s probably not the best choice either. As for taking a taxi, you may want to consider the meter if you’re in a more expensive part of town – otherwise, you may want to avoid those as well. So, the short answer is – you can’t legally drink and drive at Indy, nor can you bring an open alcohol container in the parking lot. If you do, you’ll most likely get a parking ticket and a long night of frustration.
Hopefully, this article gave you a good idea of what the rules are at Indianapolis. As you might expect, alcohol has never been prohibited at the venue, but it has always been regulated. That hasn’t changed – for the better. While there are no specific bans on drinking at Indy, there are a number of rules and regulations that restrict where and how you can enjoy a drink. If you want to keep things safe and fun, then drink responsibly. Have a good time and obey the rules – it’s what’s best for everybody.