While thousands of people converge on Indianapolis for the Indy 500 race, the whole month of May is filled with race-themed activities, including a world-renowned half-marathon.
500 Festival Mini-Marathon
Always held the first Saturday in May, the “Mini” pulls elite runners from across the world, and is the largest half-marathon in the United States. It also draws thousands of local and regional runners, and the 35,000 limit on entries filled in early December. The course varies slightly from year to year, but always includes a lap around the Speedway track. A 5K run/walk (sold out in February) begins a little later and ends at the same park, for those who aren’t ready to go the whole distance.
Breakfast at the Brickyard
Have breakfast with racing greats (Al Unser, Sr., and Bobby Unser this year), tour garages, watch qualifying runs by this year’s drivers, and watch the crowning of the 500 Festival Queen. May 19, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Kid’s Day and Rookie Run
Sunday, May 20, is for families. Kid’s Day and the Rookie Run, held in the afternoon at Monument Circle, are not only packed with activities, but are free! Kids can participate in mini-car races, climb inflatable mountains, create race-themed arts and crafts, and collect prizes. Live theater performances, clowns, face painting and loads of entertainment provide fun for the whole family. The non-competitive Rookie Run is a companion to the Mini-Marathon, and is for children ages 3-12. The distance ranges from 2 blocks to a quarter-mile, and all runners receive medals, a runners bib, and a goodie packet.
Do you dream of zooming around the Indianapolis Speedway? You can partially fill the fantasy on Community Day, when families can drive their own car for a lap around the Speedway (sorry—high speeds are not allowed). You can also tour Pit Row and Gasoline Alley, meet Indy 500 drivers and get autographs.
Memorial Day is not forgotten in the midst of the race excitement. Indianapolis will hold a memorial service at Monument Circle on May 25, honoring Indiana military men and women killed in the line of duty. It is open to the public, and parking meters are free that day.
500 Festival Parade
Noon on May 26th will kick off the 500 Festival’s 50th parade. Spend a few hours watching fantastic floats, marching bands, giant balloons, costumed characters, and more. The parade also includes celebrities, the 500 Festival Queen and her court, and all 33 Indy 500 drivers. The Grand Marshall is Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback, Peyton Manning.
A black-tie gala, the Snakepit Ball is held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom on the evening before the race (). This year, the “high-energy” dinner and dance party will feature The Commodores.
Indy 500 Race
Indianapolis Motor Speedway events in May include Pole Day, Bump Day, additional time trials and practices, and a full slate of entertainment on Carb Day, including the Pit Stop Challenge and a Kid Rock concert.
For the Indy 500 itself (), the stands may sell out, but the infield never does. If the race is rained out on Sunday, it runs on Monday. But what the locals know and the tourists don’t is that if it is rained out on Monday as well, the race is moved to Tuesday and admission is free!