Newbies Traffic Guide To The Indianapolis 500
(Photo Credit: Jamie Squire)
Saying “thank God it’s May” is like saying “thank God it’s Friday” - except it's like 27 Fridays in a row - leading up the the world's greatest race. And mercy, Doug Boles - President of Indianapolis Motor Speedway - and his racing pros have again filled May with new and old fan favorites that make attending the track special every day during the month of May.
And years ago, it wasn't looking so good. This was a race with waning interest nationally, diminishing attendance locally, and a general "meh" attitude from many Hoosiers who weren't die-hard 500 fans.
Ironically, the racing was still elite, but maybe it was time for the integration on new ideas, and to throw a fresh coat of paint on the whole month.
And that’s exactly what happened.
The Grand Prix of Indianapolis is more than a worthy supplement to the 500, Carb Day concerts now aim to bring in the next generation of racing fans, and a refreshed qualifying system has long time 500 enthusiasts wondering what the IMS braintrust will rollout next.
This new enthusiasm is bringing a host of new racing fans - curious and ready to make memories like generations before. So what we’ve done in the WIBC Traffic Center is compile several routes, hints, and tips from knowledgeable Indianapolis 500 fans across different regions of central Indiana. Indy 500 newcomers will likely find this information particularly useful, but who knows? 500 veterans may find a helpful nugget or two as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your motors! I mean start YOUR CARS. That’s it… LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR CARS! WHOOOOOO! nonononono ENGINES!!!
(I always have trouble with that one).
We’ll have the necessities - as in street and ramp closures before and after the race - and then we’ll bring in the rock stars to share some 500 goodness.
These are the street closures in Speedway. Skip down for an interactive map of postrace ramp closures.
STREETS CLOSED IN SPEEDWAY, IN
We're treating our regional experts like a traffic report - so to speak - starting with the northwest and finishing in the southwest. So with that...
LEBANON TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
There are so many family memories made at the Indianapolis 500, and it's no surprise that Kurt Darling - WIBC reporter and anchor - offers his “Dad’s route” for northwest siders and Boone County residents:
We used to go to qualifications a lot, and we attended a few 500s. Good memories. The racing is fantastic, and (walking into the speedway) is like walking into Hinkle Fieldhouse - you get to just feel it.
And it’s fun to pee in the trough.
For First timers, don’t drive all the way down Georgetown Rd, because you can’t, you have to turn around! And just be patient when leaving.
ZIONSVILLE TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
The Hammer and Nigel Show - heard weekdays on 93 WIBC from 4pm - 7pm - is the most listened to afternoon drive radio show in Indianapolis. If you haven't, check it out. It's like a bunch of people sitting around a bar and yapping about politics and life - and man is it funny.
I’m usually coming from the northwest side, so I’ll hop on High School Road from W. 56th St., then head south towards Speedway. I'll turn off on 25th street right before Crawfordsville Rd. and head towards the track.
I mean, it's Nigel, so we asked him one of the strangest things he's seen at the track. Thankfully, he had pictures:
I was leaving the race and a bunch of dudes were in in giant circle hootin’ and hollerin' outside turn 4… I thought a lady might have been putting on a “show."
I was wrong.
BROAD RIPPLE TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
Tony Donahue - Indianapolis 500 aficionado and long time producer of the "Ride with JMV" on 1070 "the Fan" - will join Sunday morning's race day simulcast as a roving reporter
**Programming note: the simulcast can be heard on 93 WIBC and 1070 from 6am - 11am.
Tony has been to a whopping 25 straight - THAT'S 25 STRAIGHT - Indianapolis 500s. Yeah, he knows a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to race day, including getting you to the track from Broad Ripple:
Race day, I typically leave my place at 6:45am, but still get stuck in traffic. However, it still leaves plenty of time (to get to the track). Plus, the people watching is certainly worth it - just don’t rear end the car in front of you!
From Broad Ripple, best route for me on race day to the speedway is 38th Street to Cold Spring Rd. (It takes you) around Marian University, then take take (Cold Spring) south to 30th, then over to the speedway.
I believe on race day, avoiding 10th street is best because they close it down and use it for the “police escort “ route.
For parking on race day, the "north lot 40" is a good option, but it does fill up. A great backup is to park in someone's yard. Look for the houses with Indy 500 banners or flags, and for $25 dollars you can pull up and park in someone's yard.
Keep in mind, after the race all routes out of Speedway lead you to I-465 or I-70.
Race day is amazing, just get there early and take everything in. It’s a long day, but hopefully you have Monday off to rest. It’s Christmas Day for race fans all over the globe, and I'm looking forward to my 25th straight 500!
KNIGHTSTOWN TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
As if you didn't know, Terri Stacy is a broadcasting legend at 93 WIBC, and if it's May, you'll find Terri at the Speedway. She'll also be part of our race day broadcast as a roving reporter, because NO ONE knows the track better than this born and bred Hoosier gal.
And if you're coming in from Hancock/Henry Co., Terri knows how to take you to the track.
(If you aren't parking inside the track), go West on Washington St. to White River Parkway North. Turn west on 10th to Polco St, then north on Polco, to 16th - which is just past the 16th St. entrance into the track. (The route) allows you to bypass the heavy traffic on 16th.
If you are parking inside the track, use the same route - except take Tibbs or Holt north. (Holt becomes Olin), then continue north off of 10th St. to 16th Street.
I’ve loved the Indy 500 since I was a kid listening with my family to the race on WIBC. When I got older, I worked as a hostess each year in Suites or in the Media Center just to be close to it all! Being a part of the WIBC pre-race Broadcast Team for over 25 yrs. has brought me opportunities I never could have imagined as a kid. The Indy 500 to me is about memories, history, tradition, a bit of a family reunion seeing the same familiar faces at every turn. And on the morning of the race, I ALWAYS feel a great deal of Hoosier pride.
GREENWOOD TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
With John "Big Boi" Herrick - WIBC News
93 WIBC news anchor and reporter John Herrick will also be chatting up race fans during the race day simulcast on 93 WIBC and 1070 "the fan." A longtime fan of the 500, the DePauw University grad recently moved back to Indiana from Oklahoma, and is excited to return to the Speedway for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
John has the "heads up" on getting south siders to the track on time. He has two routes for Greenwood folk, starting with the "easy route" that avoids unnecessary changes in interstates:
John's "Parking Route" is a direct shot to good parking, but requires a merge on to westbound I-70.
SOUTHWEST SIDE TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
"Hammer" of Hammer and Nigel has been going to Indianapolis 500 for decades. His route is handy for race fans attending from the southwest side. Just leave around 8:00am, and you'll be parked by 10:30am.
Plan to be early, and take a pillow and blanket in case you get there TOO early. Don't forget the sunscreen - the wife got sun poisoned a few years back.
I'm an Indiana homer, man - this is my home. (The Indianapolis 500) is the biggest event in the state every single year. It's about civic pride, and seeing the city come together. Even if you’re not into racing, you’re into the event. All of it - the parade, the memorial for the veterans, the parties. It's a unique thing that’s us.
Anything... um... unique you've experienced at the track, Hammer?
One time a chick asked for a beer, I gave it to her, and she lifted up her skirt and peed like a man. Had the beer in one hand peed in the bushes.
Also, two guys got into a fight at the trough. Their pants weren't pulled up - everything hanging out. When the fight was over, one guy felt bad so he gave ‘em a McChicken.
There was also the guy who wore shorts made of nothing but Crown Royal bags...
FROM SPEEDWAY TO THE INDIANAPOLIS 500
(Photo Credit: Brandon Terrone)
Brandon Terrone has been a lifelong friend of @WIBCTraffic and eats and breathes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We both left northern Indiana years ago - I rented a tiny downtown apartment, he bought a house just a minutes walk from the track. Anytime I'm heading in that direction, I go to him. And if you see Brandon at the race, say "hi" and drink a beer with him. As you can tell by the picture, he's easy to spot.
I can’t stress enough that the earlier you get, the better. IMS has a decent amount of parking, but it fills up quick.
The best way - I think to get there - is from the north west. The biggest lot for parking is off 30th St. It’s called the "North 40" (see above, Tony Donohue's Broad Ripple map). There are some more lots off of Georgetown Rd., also. Don’t forget that most adjacent neighborhoods have people parking in lawns and backyards, but again, the earlier you get there, the better chance you have of getting a decent parking spot.
Also, IMS does an excellent job of having helpful people all around, usually in yellow shirts. They are very helpful and knowledgeable, and a lot of them have been volunteering for 40-50 years man, no joke. They also have people that walk around with shirts and banners that say “ask me.”
(Photo Credit: Brandon Terrone)
Brandon hangs out with the "Rock Goddess of Indianapolis," Laura Steele.
I would say that my favorite moment from a race was in 2011 when Dan Wheldon won... it was an amazing finish with JR Hildebrand crashing on the very last turn, giving the Dan the chance to pass for the win... it was also really cool cause Mark Shambarger who is from Rochester, was the chief mechanic for Dan. I was with Marks wife, Julie and a bunch of other Rochester friends during that race...
And one of the main things that I love about the 500 is that over 400,000 people can come together and have a good ******* time! I’ve seen some stuff at the track, BUT NOT ONE SINGLE FIGHT.
considering how many people are drunk, that’s impressive.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway should be considered the 8th Wonder of the World.
UBER/LYFT? USE 'EM!
I'm telling you, ride sharing also sounds like a good way to go - ESPECIALLY after the race. Sure, you may get more traffic, but you're guranteed that the people you're watching on the way out won't get run over by the car you're driving. Hey, getting overserved happens, but try out an UBER or LYFT. Here's a map of the drop off and pickup lot:
- Make sure your apps are up to date before heading to the race.
- To find the lot after the race, exit the Speedway and follow the signage.
- You will only be able to request a ride once you have exited the Speedway.
- Once you have requested your ride, you can meet your driver at the dedicated zone.
It's my pleasure to share your Indy 500 experience as a reliable traffic reporter before and after the race. If you want to be a good samaritan and provide tips and perform spotting duties, hit me up @WIBCTraffic or call (317) 684-8134. It would be very much appreciated by all.
Until then, please be safe.
Matt Bair isn't a professional DRIVER, but he license hasn't been suspended in 17 years. He's the new voice of Indianapolis traffic, and can be followed on Twitter @WIBCTraffic. Tips? Call direct at (317) 684-8134 or the 93 WIBC Newsroom at (317) 637-6397.