In case you didn’t know…ha! ha!… Indianapolis is home to the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500 and 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 Indy 500 is absolutely the place to be during the month of May.
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 big event, there’s a huge, free festival on Monument Circle just for kids — the 500 Festival Kids Day, there’s a huge running race for kids, the Rookie Run.
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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).
What to Take to 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. The stroller is nice to help cart kids and stuff around. Keep in mind that wagons are not permitted on race day.
Protect your family from the elements and the environment. SUNBLOCK, Sunblock, 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. For an economic version, these are what we use.
How to Keep Kids Happy at the Indy 500
Consider renting a scanner so that you and your kids can listen in to the race car drivers’ chatter. In the past, we’ve used Track Scan because you could rent it and return it at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway AND up to three headsets could plugin. However, that company was purchased by Racing Electronics, and they do not currently have a partnership with IndyCar. So it’s time to BUY YOUR OWN! This is actually a pretty straight forward 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. Here’s a great one for kids from Learning Resources.
Plan on walking around and pointing out different racing elements around the track.
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
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 take your kids, that’s okay! There are many alternatives to actually taking your kids to the track on race day.
- Bring your kids along for a practice day, kids are free, adult tickets are less expensive than race day and the crowds are smaller
- Participate in the 500 Festival Kids’ Day on Monument Circle
- Let your child run in the 500 Festival Rookie Run
- Watch the 500 Festival Parade