Being a native of Indiana, I often get blank stares during my travels abroad when I tell people where I am from. Frankly, Indiana just does not get the notoriety that California or New York gets. Sometimes, that is the way we like it. However, that all changes during the month of May. Well, at least for auto racing fans anyway. Every Memorial Day Weekend, hundreds of thousands of racing fans from all over the world converge on Indianapolis for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the Indianapolis 500. If you consider yourself an aficionado of auto racing, it should be on your bucket list.
The last Sunday in May, the best drivers in IndyCar Racing drive 500 of the most important miles of their racing season, in a race that has been held at that hallowed Speedway since 1911. For the petrol-head racing fan traveling to Indianapolis from abroad, here are a few pointers to make your race weekend enjoyable.
First, book your accommodations well in advance. Hotels in the Indianapolis area for that weekend can fill up fast. Like I said, hundreds of thousands of racing fans will be there on race day. I recommend getting a hotel in the downtown area, as there are lots of great dining and entertainment options for the rest of your stay. Transportation to the event can also be a nightmare if not properly planned ahead of time. It is not as easy as just hopping in your rental car at the airport on the day of the race and driving to the event. Parking is at a premium, and traffic is a complete gridlock the closer you get to the speedway. Some shuttle bus services are available that will transport you to the venue from pre-designated parking lots on the outskirts of the city.
There is more to the Indianapolis 500 than just race day. A series of events throughout the month of May tied to the event offer the racing fan a myriad of entertainment choices. There are race qualification days where it is easier to meet and mingle with the drivers, and music concerts that often feature top talent. While in Indianapolis, it is an absolute necessity to try some of Indiana’s best dining options. On the higher end of the budget is St Elmo’s Steakhouse in downtown, an internationally famous establishment and a known regular stop for celebrity clientele. For a more budget-friendly option, any of the Wolfies Grill locations on the north side of town is a great place to try one of Indiana’s staple foods, the pork tenderloin.
Enjoy your visit in Indiana and its “Hoosier Hospitality”!