The Indy 500 with Kids | A Family Guide to the Big Race

In case you didn’t know… Indianapolis is home to the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500, as well as some amazing Indy 500 events. People travel from all over the world to be a part of the action, the race, the parties, and the 500 Festival Parade. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is absolutely the place to be during the month of May and you CAN do the Indy 500 with kids!

While residents of Indianapolis know that there is always something BIG going on, many people feel that the Month of May is the best time of year in Indianapolis. If you’re not up for the whole Indy 500 with kids, there’s a huge, free festival on Monument Circle just for kids — the 500 Festival Kids Day which includes a running race for kids, the Rookie Run.

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Indy 500 with Kids: Two children hug and excitedly await the Indy 500 while wearing checkered flag print clothing.

Taking Kids to the Indy 500

Our family is what I would call “casual fans” or perhaps even just the type of family that likes to go where the action is, so we don’t really need fantastic seats and we aren’t willing to take the financial hit. If you are like us, then you need to be aware of several things:

Businesses will often offer FREE tickets with purchase, just keep your eyes peeled in March and April.

Kids 15 and under are free with paid adult admission. These general admission tickets will not get you a seat in the stands but they will give you a nice little seat on the lawn (the viewing mounds). Ticket prices for both general admission and reserved seating increase as Race Day approaches, so buy early to save.

What to Take to the Indy 500 with Kids

Come prepared for a long, but exciting, day at the Track! If your kids aren’t likely to be much help in toting their belongings around, definitely bring a stroller to stash your stuff. Keep in mind that wagons are NOT permitted on Race Day.

Here’s what we recommend you pack for the Indy 500 with kids:

  • Chairs, umbrellas, and strollers are allowed but if you take them, they cannot block the view of anyone around you.
  • We take a blanket to sit on and maybe even a tarp to go under the blanket if it’s been a rainy week.
  • Protect your family from the elements and the environment. That means SUNBLOCK! Bring it and USE it! Bring a hat and sunglasses for each member of the family, dress appropriately (don’t want those shoulders burning), and wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Ear protection is OH so important! Stop into a sporting goods store and grab some over-the-head ear protection that is designed in kid sizes. This will encourage your child to keep it on because it actually fits well. Ear protection may be available at the track but in order to get the correct size and avoid a situation where the size you need is sold out, bring your own. We love these for kids three and up, they even have adjustable noise canceling. 
  • Snacks and water. Coolers up to 18″x15″x15″ are allowed, so load one up with sustenance for the day. Hydration is especially important if the day is hot. Of course, there are plenty of places to grab a meal at the Speedway, but you can avoid long lines and save some money by at least packing some backup options.

Indy 500 with Kids: Two boys pose with a red car with an Indy 500 decal on the side.

How to Keep Kids Happy at the Indy 500

Consider bringing a scanner to the Indy 500 with kids so that you and your kids can listen in to the race car drivers’ chatter. In the past, guests have had the option to rent a scanner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is not currently offered, so it’s time to BUY YOUR OWN!  This is actually a pretty straightforward process, and the kids look forward to it at the race.

Bring a notepad and pen for your kids and encourage them to keep track of certain cars, what lap # they are on, how many pit stops they take, or how many crashes take place during the race. Teach them the names of the drivers in certain cars. Bring along a digital stopwatch for your kids to time the laps on their own.

Plan on walking around and pointing out different racing elements around the track.

Often there are delays on the track and kids can get restless. For these moments, bring along card games like UNO, Taco vs. Burrito, or TacoCat.

Visit the free KidZone and let them work out the squirrely syndrome — dance, sing, participate in games, win prizes, and have a lot of fun!

Save Money at the Indy 500 with Kids

The best part about bringing your own snacks and beverages is that you’ll save money, the second-best part is that you won’t have to wait in line! Coolers and outside food are permitted. Please familiarize yourself with the official rules and details about what you may bring. It’s pretty lenient.

Kids at the Indy 500

You will see lots of children and families at the Indianapolis 500. If you don’t want to brave the Indy 500 with kids, that’s okay! There are many alternatives to actually taking your kids to the track on race day.

Teacher Appreciation Week is in May! Use our guide to pick the perfect gift.

Track down all the race car-themed activities around Indianapolis.

2 thoughts on “The Indy 500 with Kids | A Family Guide to the Big Race”

  1. Pingback: Month of May in Indy: Race-Related Activities for Kids

  2. Pingback: 101 Days of Summer in Indy | 101 Things to do with your kids

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