As times change so doth the partying at the Speedway.
During a race in August 1909, the cops were out in force
and anyone caught drunk was escorted off the property.
Politeness was enforced.
Through the decades, the infield of the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway has served as a popular place to watch the
race, as well as a place to party.
When America drove Model T's, people could park along
most of the inside edge of the track and watch the race.
Probably only the first row or so could see.
The 80's... SHOW US YOUR TITS
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 The streaking has been replaced by strippers on top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.
The 70's... ROCK N ROLL
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
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 sometimes turn over some old junk car
after the race was over and puncture the gas tank and set it
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 in the Snakepit were
there to drink and watch the wild 10%. By the time those
people passed out, a new wave would be drunk and ready
to entertain the crowd.
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
the weekend. Thousands would line up year after year.
On race day, a cannon is fired to indicate that the gates
These people hoped to get a good spot for their car and
also grab a spot along the fence so that they could
watch the race cars. 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
The 90's... 'KILL THE PARTY'
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 from Turn 1, no matter how early
they showed up
So, Snake Pit people begain migrating to Turns 3 & 4.
|The girl had just slapped the man.
Lucky for her, the cops missed it
or she would have ended up in jail.
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 nasty 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.
With almost as many stupid reserve cops patrolling the infield
as there were visitors, the fourth turn became almost like a
prison yard. The cops roving back and forth through the
crowd stopping people from doing anything that might seem
rude in a church service.
The 2000's... TURN AROUND
TURN 4 INFIELD
The Speedway put in a road course in 1999
to attract Formula 1. The course took over the
4th turn infield area.
Ground, which some had felt sacred, was gone.
For 90 years, thousands of race fans had
shown up early and fought to get a good front
row parking spot along the track, now the entire
area was fenced off and no one could even
walk through the 4th turn infield by 2001.
TURN 2 INFIELD
The new road course moved the infield back
quite a distance, but a grassy viewing hill was
The viewing hill in Turn 2 has been labeled as 'family
viewing' and people were not supposed to drink in
It was ridiculous and to the point that if you even showed your
face in the 4th turn, you might end up in jail. People were
arrested on trumped up charges when simply walking by,
including me. I was arrested and taken to jail, charged with
Public Intox on FIrst Day of Qualifying, although I'd just
opened my first beer, and was walking silently along minding
my own business!
Over the decade, the once huge happy crowd was reduced
down to almost nothing. Just a hundred people showed up to
park along the 4th turn road and sit on coolers and drink beer
for old times sake.
The speedway had successfully killed off the entire party.
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. Two weekends of qualifying dropped to one weekend
and the crowds plummeted.
I think he lost a lot of potential IndyCar fans with all the young
people he had arrested. For decades, many young locals
attended for the party, and later they became race fans for life.
Now the party was gone, and if you tired, you might end up in
jail. Why would they ever want to return after experiencing that?
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 stuck.
From 1969-1972, Carb Day was held the Wednesday before
From 1973 to 2004, Carb Day was held the Thursday before
the race. A pit stop competition between the teams began
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
Since 2007, a small invite-only party has been happening in
the 4th turn infield, on and around a bathroom that has been
converted into the Miller Light Party Deck.
There have been various ammenities here since - a big hot
tub and volleyball at first. The hot tub disappeared and was
replaced by a stage for a band.
I had tickets to it for the 2013 Brickyard 400.
Pictures from that day.
|Miller Lite Deck Party in Turn 4
There has always been lots of partying going on outside
the Speedway and still is today.
Thousands camp around the outside of the speedway, some
in tents, some in RVs. Some people show up a week early.
The craziness is at it's height the night before the race.
You may find some people setting up portable stages, pool
tables, darts, bars etc. in the Coke lot (Lot 1C.)
In 2014, someone got shot in the Coke Lot and the Speedway
has made attempts to set curfews and hand out wrist bands to
those who are camping in order to keep others out.
|Partying Outside The Track
|How to Survive the Indy 500.... and Still Have Fun!
The 2010's... THE PARTY AMPS UP!
The party on Race Day has greatly increased thanks to the
introduction of a musical event in the Turn 3 Infield in 2010.
At first there were things to do, such as a giant slide and
games. Then it morphed into a music concert.
The Speedway calls it "The Snakepit" and it is attended by
young adults, 18 and older. World famous DJ's play all day.
The event grew quickly in size and price. (It went from free to
$30/$125 VIP as of 2019.) Many people attending this do
not know or care what is going on in the race.
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 rather small, maybe
Word soon spread about the big fun we were having and
the crowds began to grow and grow. Now there are tens of
thousands attending the concert on Carb Day.
The location for the concert within the infield has changed
through the years.
For the first ten years, girls flashing were a staple. However
that seems to have ended. This may have to do with the fact
that both the bands and the crowd are much older now.
The success of the Carb Day Concerts has led the speedway to introduce
more big concerts. They hosted the Rolling Stones on July 4th, 2015.
Two large country music concerts have been added during race weekends.
One is held on Saturday afternoon, the day before the Indy 500. They call it
the "Legends Day Concert."
Another large country concert is held on the day before the Brickyard 400 as
well. It begins in the afternoon and continues into the night and includes
numerous acts. It is simply referred to as the "Music Fest."
|1931 - People have climbed trees to get a view
TURN 1 INFIELD
Until 2007, there was a low viewing hill and some stands in
Turn 1. While it was not a party area, it was a great spot
from which to watch the track.
With the arrival of motorcycle racing In 2008, a new lane was
installed to bypass the banked Turn 1 track as part of the
road course. This pushed fans back a little.
But in 2009, a huge chicane was installed which completely
took over all of the Turn 1 infield. That was the end of fans
watching the Indy 500 from the turn 1 infield, probably forever.
While there are no longer any places in the infield where you
can park and see the track, You can park in Turn 3 and hike
over to the grassy viewing hills that run along the back straight
from Turn 2 to Turn 3.
In addition, viewing hills run along much of the infield road
While, Turns 3 and 4 were open, crowded and fun, this was
not to continue.
The speedway soon decided to start erecting stands in Turn 4
which hurt the infield party.
None the less, many people would still show up to party rain
or shine, 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 or so,
some on horseback.
|Stands installed in Turn 1 infield -
|Turn 1 Infield is now a chicane
The above was the tag line for this Web Site when I started it in 1996. One of the reasons
was because the speedway had been clamping down hard on the partiers in the 1990s.
This particular web page was called "How to Party and Avoid Jail."
|Some campers set things on fire besides
firewood. That can attract the fire department
and result in a fine.
All concerts cancelled due to pandemic
Martin Garrix, Galantis, Rezz, Steve Aoki and Yellow Claw
Axwell, Ingrosso, Deadmau5, Diplo, and GRiZ
Zedd, Marshmello, RL Grime, Action Bronson, Adventure Club and The Trap House
Skrillex, Martin Garrix and Zeds Dead
Afrojack and Diplo
Hardwell, NERVO and Dillon Francis
Diplo and Afrojack
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