HISTORY

The road course at IMS was originally constructed for the 2000-2007 Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix.  
Over the years, the course has been greatly altered.

The map below shows the changes to the road course layout.
Choosing Seats for Races On the IMS Road Course.
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The Back Straight - View from Turn 7 Stand at the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Video of start of 2015 Grand Prix of Indianapolis from Turn 5 Stand.
The Speedway no longer sets this stand up.
I leave this video up only for history's sake.
CHOOSING ROAD COURSE SEATS
While I always prefer to watch races on the oval track from the stands, I enjoy the general
admission and viewing hills as much as reserved seats for the road course.

The basic differences are:

Reserved Seats -





General Admission -





Regardless which you choose, there will be some food stands nearby.
The road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway cleverly uses part of the famous oval track.

Automobile races run the course clockwise - the opposite direction of oval track races.
Motorcycles, on the other hand, drive the course in a counter-clockwise direction.
COURSE CHANGES:

1. With the arrival of MotoGP motorcycles in 2008, the oval's famous Turn 1 was
removed from the course and a big chicane was installed in the turn 1 infield.
It was Turn 13.  Today that area is now Turns 12, 13 & 14.

2. The chicane at turns 9 & 10 was drastically smoothed out, creating a faster flow.

3. Turn 6 has now been removed, again creating a faster flow to the course.  The
pavement is still there though and could be used again one day.  

Note: A temporary stand was used at Turn 6 during the F1 Grand Prix.
A temporary stand used to be erected at Turn 5 and another one at the end of the
back straight for the IndyCar Grand Prix.
The History of the IMS Road Course
The Current Road Course Layout
On the upper left of the photo above, there is the white concrete wall and fencing.
On the other side of the fence is a parking lot.  You can stand there and watch the cars.
THAT is as close as you can get to the cars racing.  It's fun and exciting to experience
them that close, but only for a while, as the race cars are just blurs screaming by.

Also, at the top of the photo above, you see a big white banner.  That is the cross-walk -
the ONLY way to get from one side of the track to the other.
If you attend any of the oval races at the track, you might want to
consider
NOT sitting along the main straight in the Tower Terrace,
Paddock and Stand A, because they are similar to watching an oval
race - cars running straight by in front of you.  Granted, most of those
seats do offer a view of pit stops which you cannot see from any
other seats.

But I suggest you soak up the "road racing" by sitting where you can
see the cars going through some twisties.

That means sitting in the infield or choosing Stand H, J or Northwest
Vista at the north end, or Stand B or E at the south end.   While the
Northwest Vista is an excellent place to sit for any race (it gives  you
the widest view of either course), I find it is rather too far away from
the race cars using the road course.

Note: Motorcycle races have some seats in the South Vista too which
are good, as can be seen in the following photo.
You can sit higher and get a wider or longer view of the course.
From some seats, you can see the start/finish and pit stops.
Smoking is not allowed in the grand stands anymore.
You can see huge monitors that keep you aware of everything going on.
You get closer to the track.
You have to use porto-lets.
You have to bring along lawn chairs or blankets.
You need a scanner or mobile app to follow the race.
Passing during auto races on the road course
usually happens at the end of a straight.

That is probably why the most popular stands for the IndyCar
Grand Prix are Stands H & J, as they have a good view of
Turn 1.  From there you can see the IndyCars coming at full
speed down the long main straight, and then brake hard for a
sharp right turn into the infield road course.  There is usually
some crashing there on the 1st Lap too.

There is also a viewing hill on the inside of Turn 1. That is a
great spot to see the action there.  Unfortunately it is quite
popular and standing room only.  If you can find a spot there
to see the start, you can always leave and go sit on other
viewing hills after you get tired of standing.
Viewing Hill Tip

Unless you arrive early and claim a spot at the top of a hill with your
blanket or lawn chairs, you'll end up sitting below them on the hill side.
Lawn chairs do not work on inclines, so you'll have to sit on the ground.

UNLESS you have a
GCI Outdoor Everywhere Portable Folding Hillside Chair!
I bought mine at Dick's Sporting Goods.  They cost from $25-$40

It folds up so you can carry it. It has a strap so you can adjust the seat for the
incline angle.  It has another strap for adjusting the recline angle of the back.
It sits very low to the ground so you won't be blocking anyone behind you who
is sitting on the ground.  I find it comfortable and I'm picky.
I do not know what these guys are sitting on, but they look comfortable!
This page discusses choosing where to watch road races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I also offer these similar pages:
Tips for the IMS Infield
Choosing Reserved Seats for the Oval Track Races
All IndyCar races have a running start i.e. after their warm-up lap, they approach the
start of the race in formation and under speed.  Formula 1 on the other hand begins
all of their grand prix from a standstill.

IndyCar decided to try that the first year of the IndyCar Grand Prix.
The video of that race start is shown below.
One of the cars stalled on the grid and the result was not pretty.
Consequently, IndyCar went back to rollling starts from then on!
Start of the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  I shot the above video from Tower Terrace.
The speedway use to erect temporary stands at a couple of locations in the infield.  
I liked having a reserved seat in the infield.
Unfortunately they stopped doing that.  I don't know why.
Here's a photo I took from such a stand:
Video of Start of 2016 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Shot from the viewing hill in Turn 1.
2012 MotoGP Race from South Vista seats
2016 Grand Prix of Indianapolis - My view of Turn 1 from Stand H