This year marks the 100th anniversary of the race, making it an even bigger spectacle than usual.
• Allison Transmission Balloon Festival, noon to 10 p.m.
Watch as 33 hot air balloons from across the United States take to the sky, launching from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and returning in a “Hare and Hound” race. That night the balloons light up the sky in a magical Balloon Glow. Did we mention this is free?
• Emerging Technologies Day, 1 p.m.Some of the best and brightest young minds will display innovative renewable technologies during the annual Emerging Technology Days at the Speedway. Alternative-power vehicles in the Formula Hybrid Challenge, Formula Sun Grand Prix and the Purdue GrandPrix will be featured during the event.
• Indianapolis Star Opening Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A series of events will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, including a celebration of automobiles, question and answer sessions and live music.
• 100th Anniversary Indy 500 Celebration of Automobiles, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nothing embodies the Indianapolis 500 like vintage automobiles. The speedway has called on owners of classic cars to display their machines in a competition.
• Celebration of Automobiles Awards Dinner, 7:10 p.m.A team of judges led by 1963 Indy 500 champion Parnelli Jones will reveal the choices of best in show in several categories from the Celebration of Automobiles. Indy 500 veterans Arie Luyendyk, Johnny Rutherford, Eddie Cheever, Al Unser, Jr. and Jones will participate in question and answer sessions.
May 15 through May 19
• Indianapolis 500 practice, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.Modern racing icons such as three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves, two-time winner Dario Franchitti and Izod IndyCar Series stars prepare for qualifications.
• First Friday Practice, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.Watch as drivers and race teams put their best foot forward – and the accelerator to the floor – before qualifying for pole position the next day. It’s like a little sneak peak at the big day!
• Pole Day Qualifying, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.The most important of the practice sessions, the performances determine which driver will take the coveted Pole Position and the first 24 positions for the race.
• Bump Day/Armed Forces Day, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.All the anguish and anxiety plays out as the final spots for the race are filled. A new, higher-profile Armed Forces Day will be featured, as well as the 20th anniversary of Willie T. Ribbs’ milestone as the first African-American to qualify for the Indy 500.
• Community Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.Average folks can tool their cars around the track, days before the real event sees racecars zoom around the 2.5- mile oval in speeds exceeding 200 mph.
• Carb Day, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.This annual celebration features the final Indy 500 practice, the annual pit stop competition, Miller Lite Carb Day concert and the Firestone Freedom 100 race. Join the crowd for the day and enjoy this great series of events!
• IPL 500 Festival Parade, Downtown, noonCelebrating 54 years, the nationally televised parade features 30,000 spectators treated to all kinds of sights and sounds, including giant balloons, all 33 racecar drivers, musical performances by nationally renowned artists and a bevy of floats.
• The 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, noon
Does it really need an explanation? Didn’t think so.