As times change so doth the partying at the
Speedway. During the race in August 1909, the
cops were out in force and anyone caught drunk
was escorted off the property. Politeness was
Through the years, the infield of the Indianapolis
Motor Speedway has served as a giant parking
lot, a golf course, museum headquarters, and
garage area. It has always been a popular
place to watch the race as well.
When America drove Model T's, people could
park along most of the inside edge of the track
and watch the race. Of course only the first row
or so could see.
By the time 1980 rolls up, things are getting a little more
serious. The streaking has been replaced by strippers on top
of vans, men and women both! (Although the drunken
exhibitionist men would be booed into fast retreat.) Bikers
blend with teenagers and hicks and everybody was partying.
Fights would break out sometimes. Frisbees and footballs
would fly through the air across peoples heads and cars.
The first turn infield had earned the name "The Snakepit".
It became a dangerous place to venture if you were a naive
young lady. Drunken guys would surround girls who wandered
in and taunt them to flash. Girls who ventured in could count
on some verbal harrassment - if not physical.
As the years rolled by, more stands were erected, yet folks still
enjoyed tailgaiting in the infield.
Eventually, bleacher sections sprouted up along the main
straight. Some people began erecting scaffolds in the infield in
order to see the race. Some were as high as 40ft. They would
sell space on them to other fans. These scaffolds could get
pretty full. A tall one fell over in 1960, killing two people and
injuring 40. (Photos of this accident ) From then on, the
scaffolding was not allowed.
We find the infield turns crowded deep with people.
Scaffolding has been banned. Except for the people sitting on
top of vehicles, bathrooms, or even in the trees, only the
people close to the front row could see the cars. One might
wonder, what these people had to do if they couldn't see the
race cars. The answer is, soak up the sun and drink a lot of beer.
The 70's show up and the partying picks up. Heavy drinking,
pot smoking, LSD, nudity and free love all make appearances.
Like some American campuses, the infield is filled with the
generation of kids pushing the limits on drugs, sex and
rock n roll.
Rowdy drunks would always turn over some old junker cars
after the race was over and puncture the gas tank and set
them on fire.
Streaking (sprinting naked past crowds) made an
appearance. Although everyone preferred sun-bathing
weather, the infield crowd would show up and start
partying bright and early even in the pouring rain. Once
mud puddles develop, you would get to see people
running and sliding in it.
Click on thumbnails below to see photos of 1st Turn infield:
But all in all, the majority of the people were there to watch the
10% who were getting crazy. By the time they passed out, a
new wave would be drunk and ready to entertain the crowd. It
was often more interesting watching what was going on in the
Snake Pit than it was watching what was happening on the track!
It was a pretty popular past time, especially for the largely
Mid-western youth who didn't have things ,like beaches, to
bring large crowds of teenagers together in a unrestricted
environment. Cops would generally stand back and let it
For decades, people have stayed in line over night in
order to rush into the infield when the track opened on
race day; qualifying weekends too. Thousands would line
up year after year and wait for the cannon to go off which
signalled to all near and far that the gates were now open!
These people hoped to get a good spot for their car and
also grab a spot along the fence so that they could
actually see a little racing. They would tape off sections to
try and hold their ground. If you were back further in the
infield, say behind the row of trees and several rows of
vans and cars and you weren't going to be seeing
anything on the track. Some people would climb a tree
or sit on top of the bathrooms to try and catch a glimpse
of the race cars, if they didn't have a van to stand on.
Vans also made good stages for showing off or stripping.
|Fans Streaming in at 5 a.m
During the 80's, the Speedway began putting up bleachers
along the inside of Turn One and this began to put a big crimp
in space for all the party people in the Snakepit. Eventually the
speedway erected stands throughout all of the first turn. Now,
no one who wanted to picnic or tailgate could see the race
cars no matter how early they showed up.
However, Turns 3 and 4 were still open and were crowded and
fun too... for awhile. The speedway soon decided to start
erecting stands there too which really hurt the infield party crowd.
None the less, many people would still show up to party in rain
or sunshine, even if they were unable to see a race car during
the entire day.
The police had began to become more numerous and more
daring. They walked through the crowds in groups of 5, some
|The girl had just slapped the man.
Lucky for her, the cops were looking elsewhere.
Drunks, underage drinkers, strippers, pot smokers, and
rumblers could look forward to going to jail if they weren't
Each year, the cops got stricter and more numerous and the
fun and the crowds got smaller and smaller. Towards the
end, there were as many cops roving around as there were
If people looked under 21, cops would stop and search
their coolers. They would go as far as telling people in the
middle of the giant infield, to turn down their radios or to not
Any infraction was now a trip to the nast Marion County jail.,
where the 18 year olds could spend the weekend in one cell
with 40 adult murderers, rapists and other felons.
The Speedway removed the 4th turn stands and put a grassy
viewing hill in its place which still blocked the view of the track
from the infield. The next year they roped it off so you couldn't
park your car near it.
As the Speedway was building the road course,
you could still walk through the 4th turn. In
2000, you could not. By 2001 it was all out of
bounds and fenced off.
The speedway had successfully killed off
the entire party, except for a few dregs over
in turn 3 (that would grow in the next decade.)
Tony's introduction of the IRL coupled with his
platoon of reserve cops, lost the speedway a
lot of fans. The amazing, world famous, Month
of May, had a 90% attendance drop in the 90's.
I think he lost a lot of potential IndyCar fans with
all the young people he had arrested.
Tony's introduction of the Brickyard 400 and
the U.S. Grand Prix, attracted new crowds of
people and kept his revenue up.
With almost as many stupid reserve cops patrolling the infield
as there were visitors, the fourth turn became worse than a
prison camp - with weekend cop wannabees armed with hand
guns, going back and forth through the crowd stopping people
from doing anything that might seem rude in a church service!
It was ridiculous and to the point that if you even showed your
face in the 4th turn, you were going to jail. People were
arrested on trumped up charges when simply walking by,
Over the decade, the once huge happy crowd was reduced
down to almost nothing. Just a hundred people or showed
up at the end to park along the 4th turn road and sit on
coolers and drink beer for old times sake.
The Speedway put in a road course in 1999 and another piece
of ground, which some had felt sacred, was gone, For 90
years thousands of race fans had raced to get a good front
row parking spot along the track, now the entire area is
fenced off and no one can even walk through the 4th turn infield.
Carb Day tradition goes way back. It is the last chance the
Indy cars can get on the track for the race teams test and
tune their cars. It was called Carburation Day because the
race cars used to use carburators. (The lotus cars of Jim
Clark and Dan Gurney were the last to actually use
carburetors in 1963.)
Even though fuel injectors are now used, the name has
From 1969-1972, Carb Day was held the Wednesday
before the race.
From 1973 to 2004, Carb Day was held the Thursday
before the race. A pit stop competition between the
teams began in 1977.
Carb Day was moved to Friday beginning in 2005 when the
Indy Lights race was moved to this weekend.
I think it being on Friday has helped attendance since fans
can come out and party and not worry about going in early
to the work the next day.
Burning car in the infield - 1985
|1919 Indy 500 - I'd hate to be behind these guys!
|Since 2007, a small invite-only party has been
happening in the 4th turn infield, on and around a
building that was bathrooms. It is called the Miller Light
Deck Party. They have Miller Lite girls there and a big
hot tub and volleyball.
I had tickets to it for the 2013 Brickyard 400.
Pictures from that day.
There has always been lots of partying going on outside
the Speedway and still is today. Thousands camp across
Georgetown Road from the Speedway. 16th Street and
Georgetown Road may get shut down for all the people
partying in the street. The craziness is at it's height the
night before the race. You will find some people setting
up portable stages, pool tables, darts, bars etc. in Lot 1.
In 2014, someone got shot in the Coke Lot and the
Speedway attempts to set curfews.
|How to Survive the Indy 500.... and Still Have Fun!
The party crowd in turn 3 infield really picked up for race
day. There is a viewing hill all along the area and it gets
really packed now. Many like to party there.
The Speedway began to promote the party in Turn 3 in the
2010s. Calling it The Snakepit, there are world famous
DJ's playing all day on race day, where young crowds
dance and party Race Day away. The crowds have been
growing larger for the Snake Pit party.
The Carb Day Concert was improved in
2014 when a new huge stage was created.
The show was also moved to the 4th turn.
In addition, several bleachers were set up on
either side of the stage which Suite Ticket
Owners get to use.
Beginning in 2015, Concert Pit tickets are
being sold by the Speedway so that fans
can get up close to the stage. Before that,
die-hard fans would line up early and hang
out in a position close to the stage.
2014 CARB DAY CONCERT
Big Fun returned to the Speedway with the introduction of
the Carb Day Concert.
When it began in 2000, it was held in the plaza behind the
Pagoda Tower and attendance was small.
Word soon spread about the big fun we were having and
the crowds began to grow and grow.
The location for the concert within the infield has changed
through the years and has been held in the 4th Turn since
For a lot of years, girls flashing was a staple. However I
have not seen any since the move to the 4th turn.