The month of June is upon us, which means one thing: it’s time for the Indianapolis 500! For the uninitiated, the 500 is the biggest, the best, and the most popular annual sporting event in the country that isn’t actually a football game. It also happens to be the last hurrah for the city’s classic racing team, the Indianapolis 500-IndyCar, as it makes the transition to a new league: the IndyCar Series. In case you’re wondering, the name “IndyCar” stands for “Indy car racing“—get it? The unique thing about the Indy 500 is that it’s the only race that takes place in May and June. The rest of the year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sits quiet (or not so quiet). In 2019, the speedway will be hosting a variety of other sporting events, including concerts, as well as non-sports-related activities, like comedy shows and expositions.
The 500 Is Still The Biggest
Despite the name, the Indianapolis 500 is actually a bit of a prologue for the IndyCar Series. The annual event is actually two different races that happen on two different days. On the first day, called “IndyCar Day,” the Indy 500-IndyCar race is held. On the second day, called “Indianapolis Motor Speedway Day,” the rest of the events take place. As its name implies, the Indy 500 is the grand finale of the IndyCar season. The Indianapolis 500 not only sets the tone for the rest of the year, but it also determines the series champion. Typically, the winning car from the Indianapolis 500 is also the car that competes in the other races throughout the season. Just like that, one season + one race = one title. It’s the little things in life that make it memorable. Like the fact that it takes place in mid-June and the temperatures are rising (though, fortunately, not unbearably so).
The 2019 IndyCar Season Is Promising
As we’ve established, the Indy 500 is the last hurrah for the Indianapolis 500-IndyCar. After 2019, the team will join the IndyCar Series (for which it is eligible). The transition should be relatively painless, as there are only six other races scheduled for the year, including the Indy 500. In fact, the last two events of the season, including the IndyWorld Challenge, are virtual twin-bills with the Indy 500. While the transition to a new league is a little bittersweet, at least the team will have some great races to end the year on a high note. The fact that the championship contenders are already starting to be determined is a good omen for the upcoming season, though it’s still far too early to make any definitive predictions.
What Else Is Going On At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Besides the Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts a variety of other sporting events and non-sports-related activities throughout the year. Some of the more prominent events include:
- The Brickyard Crossing Club Car Show (formerly the All-American Open) —An open-to-the-public car show that celebrates classic and modern American automobiles. This exhibition features more than 150 cars and is held every year in May. In past years, the event has featured everything from antique cars and muscle machines to old-school ice cream trucks and even a few vintage fire trucks!
- The Freedom Fighters Battle Of The Bands —An annual event (held since 1987) in which local high schools and middle schools compete for the title of “Freedom Fighter.” The winning band is then invited to perform before a live audience at the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade. This event is probably the most famous one at the track, as it’s touted as the kickoff to the city’s famous festival, the Indianapolis 500 Festival. It’s always a good opportunity for high school bands to showcase their skills and perhaps even make some new connections. This year’s battle of the bands takes place on May 3.
- The Kids’ Day At The Races —One of the most anticipated annual events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the annual Kids’ Day At The Races. It’s a day when children (and their parents/legal guardians) are allowed to attend the speedway for free, along with other family members. The event takes place each year on Columbus Day (October 12) and features activities, live music, and fireworks. In 2019, the festivities will be held on October 12 and 13.
- The Bachelorette Party —The Indianapolis 500 is a bit of a retirement community for young couples, so it tends to be a place full of bachelors and bachelorettes looking for a good time. Each year, the entire month of June is dedicated to celebrating these coupledom-seeking parties, with a variety of bachelorette events, including the classic bridal shower and the less-traditional bucket list challenge. This year’s Bachelorette Party will be taking place on June 14.
- The Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade —As we’ve established, the Indianapolis 500 Festival is one of the city’s biggest annual events. This year, it will be held in May and continues to celebrate all things American, featuring parades, celebrity appearances, live music, and more. The festival kicks off the city’s famous Indianapoils International Speedway (formerly known as the Indianapolis 500), which will host the IndyCar Series in May and June.
- The Road To The Indy —This is the original name of the IndyCar Series, but this year, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be playing host to the Road To The Indy, a 10-race series that will culminate in the famous Indianapolis 500. The Road To The Indy is a series of exhibition races that will help determine the 2019 IndyCar champion. The drivers will be going (somewhat) conservatively in case you’re wondering, trying to avoid any mishaps that could affect the outcome of the IndyCar season. So, while it’s always an exciting time for NASCAR fans, it’s basically a “dry run” for the big one in May.
Beyond the events that take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there are plenty of things going on elsewhere in the city that you might be interested in. For instance, the Indiana State Fair is an annual event that takes place in late summer. If you happen to be in town during the middle of the month, you can take a drive out to the State Fair, get a photo taken with a real-life “Indianapolis 500” checkered flag, and maybe catch a glimpse of a race car or two. The Indianapolis Museum of Art opens its doors to the public each year in May and presents a variety of exhibitions and performances. There are also plenty of festivals and parades that take place in the city throughout the year, most notably the Indiana State Fair. Though it’s not an official part of the 500 Festival, it’s still a very popular event with locals. The last day of the month is also dedicated to another of the city’s biggest events, the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade, which takes place on Hawthorne Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. This year, the festival will be celebrating its 40th anniversary, so there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in Americana.