Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (2024)

Indianapolis Star

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (1)

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (2)

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This is IndyStar's annual fun report — here, you'll find coverage of everything but the actual race. If race updates are what you're looking for, you can find all that and more over at IndyStar Sports.

The 2023 Indianapolis 500 is already over? Say it ain’t so!

Fret not: you can relive the party with all of us. IndyStar spent all day out and about at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, people-watching in the Snake Pit, the infield, the co*ke Lot, the red carpet, the Pagoda and wherever else we were welcomed.

Read updates from IndyStar's Claire Rafford, Domenica Bongiovanni, Rory Appleton and Elissa Maudlin, all assembled by Holly Hays.

What surprised you the most? For us, bees. But enjoy reminiscing on the party around the greatest spectacle in racing.

We're already excited to do it again next year.

Best moments from the 2023 Indy 500: Drivers, fans and celebrities spend Sunday at the track

Live Indy 500 coverage from IMS

4:45 p.m. — 'I just couldn't believe' that final lap

Fourteen-year-old Jack Bohde picked out his Josef Newgarden shirt from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum gift shop this morning — because he liked Will Power, Newgarden’s teammate.

In his first Indy 500, the New Jersey teen repped the winner. He was so excited to see him pull it off.

Ann Swearingen also sported a Newgarden shirt. The Swearingens are from Nashville, so they had to rep Newgarden, who they called “our hometown boy."

Though Tim Swearingen said he was supporting Santino Ferrucci, he said he was happy to see the hometown hero take it home.

Michele Lewis, of Seymour, has had the same seats for "years and years and years." With the multiple red flags near the end of the race, she said she's not seen anything like it and was grateful it gave other drivers a chance at the finish than if it went in yellow.

"It was very close," she said. "I just couldn't believe it, and I don't even know how to describe it."

Corey Schwartz, of Oklahoma City, was sat near the front of the bleachers. Schwartz said the 500 is important to him because it was important to his dad, who died several years ago.

"It was phenomenal, it was unbelievable," he said.


While the first half of the race flew by, the second half of the race was littered — literally — with crashes, cautions and red flags. But in a one-lap sprint, Josef Newgarden bested Marcus Ericsson using a move called the "Dragon," the very maneuver Ericsson used last year to secure his win.

Newgarden went through the fence, jumped the wall and dove into the crowd to celebrate his win.

4 p.m. — Crash sends tire over fence (and crowd) and into parking lot

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (3)

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (4)

Tire flies off car, misses spectators at Indy 500

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske discusses the tire that came off of Kyle Kirkwood's car.

Clark Wade, Indianapolis Star

We said we cover everything but the race, but it's impossible not to mention the crash we all witnessed a few minutes ago that could've been catastrophic for spectators.

From my IndyStar Sports colleague, Matt Glenesk: With fewer than 20 laps left in the race, Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood collided and Kirkwood's rear left tire bounced off the track and headed toward — but over — the crowd in Turn 2.

'It's a miracle': Fans react after tire flies off Indy 500 car and over spectators

'I was in this turn': Author John Green tweets about Indianapolis 500 tire flying over crowd

Hoosier author John Green tweeted that he was in Turn 2 at the time of the crash: "Hugely relieved everyone appears to be ok. Watching a wheel fly over my friends at 150 miles per hour is not an experience I’m anxious to repeat."

3:40 p.m. — Recap: No Shaq? No problem for Snake Pit partiers

Turn 3 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval once again filled with bass, booze and bare skin for Indy's biggest EDM party, the Indy 500 Snake Pit.

Headliner Kaskade led a spirited set capped by seamless transitions from original tracks to sing-a-long classics "Sweet Caroline" and "Livin' on a Prayer."

It was standing room only by the time Kaskade hit the stage just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. Inflatable animals and tens of thousands of hands filled the air, as fire spewed from cannons along the floor and roof of a massive stage.

A last-minute cancellation from this year's biggest Snake Pit star, DJ Diesel, also known as retired NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal, did not seem to impact attendance. If it bummed anyone out, folks left that vibe at the entry gate.

Indy 500 Snake Pit concert recap: No Shaq in the Snake Pit? No problem. Indy 500 Turn 3 rumbles with booze, bass

3 p.m. — IMS on race day is 'Disneyland for adults'

The race is well underway but fans are still reveling in the thrill of the greatest spectacle in racing.

Kirk Gibson, 29 from Carmel, is enjoying what he calls “Disneyland for adults.”

The experience of growing up in Central Indiana made him a racing fan for life.

“It’s a magical place,” Gibson, who was wearing a black-and-white checkered shirt, said. “And then you go back, and then you want to be involved in it for the rest of the year.”

It’s Gibson’s 23rd Indy 500 — he’s been coming to the race since he was a kid.

“Haven’t missed one since,” he said. “And I’ll never miss one again.”

Gibson’s made tons of memories in Speedway. His favorite? Besides early mornings in the co*ke Lot, it’s when he won the pot on a Tony Kanaan win.

While Gibson would love to see Alex Palou or Helio Castroneves win, for him, it’s about having a safe race and good vibes.

“You just want to have a good time,” he said, “and that’s what we’re here for.”

On the sloped hill just inside of Turn 2, Andrew O’Neill, 26, guards what looks like a full mountain of beer cans.

“I’m just a troll in charge of trash,” he said, sitting atop the sunny hill as cars raced by.

He’s been coming to the race for three or four years with friends, he said, but grew up watching the 500 on TV.

“This is May,” he said, gesturing towards the bottles and cans.

2:30 p.m. — OK, we really didn't have BEES on the race day bingo card

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (5)

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (6)

Indianapolis 500: Swarm of bees hovers over crowd at 107th race

The Indianapolis 500 may have lost Sting Ray Robb on Lap 91 in Sunday's race, but the 500 didn't lose the sting.

Matt Glenesk, Nat Newell & Jenny Porter Tilley, Wochit

Several of us at IndyStar were joking earlier about the cars sounding like a swarm of bees when they speed by. But now we have ACTUAL bees?

But really, I don't even know what they can do about this. Like.........????

More: Swarm of bees attack Indianapolis 500 race fans near the start/finish line

1:30 p.m. — Kaskade has... cascaded over the Snake Pit

Yes, it's bad. I know it's bad. But here we are. Anyway, the race is a little more than a quarter of the way over, and in Turn 3, headliner Kaskade is playing in the Snake Pit and there is quite the crowd.

From what I'm seeing even from the media center, I can confirm it's an impressive gathering.

1:15 p.m. — 'It's such a vibe'

When Olivia King, 22, heads to IMS, there’s only one piece of art on her mind: the 2006 Pixar animated classic, “Cars.”

When asked by fellow “Cars” enthusiast Claire Rafford when someone was going to play the soundtrack's theme, "Life is a Highway," King had an appropriate response.

“I’ll play it if they don’t!” King said.

The girl group also consists of King’s mom, Melissa, and her friend, Abby Faust.Olivia and Faust are functionally first timers — well, to the actual race (Olivia’s been to the Snake Pit).

For her first Indy 500, Faust brought out white wine and bedazzled sunglasses, complete with “milk” and trophy charms: “It’s such a vibe!”

12:30 p.m. — Music to our ears before the race

Opera singer Angela Brown sang "God Bless America," including some of the lyrics most people don't remember. Jewel then sang the national anthem — and made it a little longer than usual. Jim Cornelison followed with the traditional "Back Home Again in Indiana.

Jewel at the Indy 500: National anthem reaction ranges from 'mangled' to the 'best I've ever seen'

12:15 p.m. — A life-sized Mario Kart at IMS

Parked among the powerful Indy 500 cars at the year's race, spectators have spotted a familiar red and yellow go-kart driven by Mario, our favorite video game plumber.

For the love of God, someone tell Alex Palou, who has the fastest pole position speed in race history, to watch out for spiked blue tortoise shells. Also, beware of Wario — he cheats.

More: Watch for banana peels! Life-sized Mario Kart spotted at Indy 500

12:10 p.m. — A pre-race PSA

We're just minutes away from the invocation now, and you can feel the electricity in the air. Now's as good a time as any to remind you to stay safe and drink lots of water as the afternoon continues, especially if you've had a drink or two.

It's the biggest part of the year for many fans, and it's tempting to overindulge in your favorite beverages. Don't forget to celebrate safely.

Don't let drinking become dangerous: How to celebrate safely at the Indianapolis 500

11:15 a.m. — Adam Driver sighting!

That's it, that's literally the tweet.

10:45 a.m. — To party, or not to party?

Editor's note: As a huge fan of the Bard and his work, particularly "Hamlet," I, Holly Hays, am ashamed of that subhead. I also feel like I could've worked harder and made it better, but I have been awake for a very long time.

America, flags, William Shakespeare?

John Stamus (sounds like the actor) caught the eye immediately with his very — er, literary — choice of outerwear.

“Me and Billy go way back,” Stamus said, gesturing to his sweatshirt featuring William Shakespeare.

Stamus, from St. Louis, is here for his first Indy 500. He arrived in Indy at 3 a.m.

The reason for his attire? Education for race attendees.

“In all those great, great poems he wrote,” Stamus said, “they’ll feel inspired to party more.”

American flag overalls are perhaps a more classic 500 fashion choice.

For Griffin Widmann, 26, and Nate Young, 24, the matching overalls were a no-brainer.

Amazon came through for that one.

10:30 a.m. — The Snake Pit is Snake Pitting

I didn't know borgs were this much of a thing, but apparently they're a big enough deal to coordinate with your friends and give the bottles punny names? And also be so committed as to create a pair of jorts (jean shorts) for your borg? How incredibly on-brand for the Snake Pit.

Elsewhere, Domenica Bongiovanni spoke to a group of concert fans who came in with their own dress code.

Taylor Hobbs, 25, didn’t have trouble convincing her crew to wear psychedelic-styled checkered button-down shirts with bright flowery pops.

Rex Buckley, her fiancé, held up her left hand to show her engagement ring.

“That’s when I lost my choice,” he said to laughter.

A quick virtual shopping trip on Shein provided this year’s uniform for the group of four, who was headed to the VIP section of the Snake Pit.

Zayhn Enfield, 28, Ashley Smith, 26, Hobbs and Buckley are self-professed EDM fans and mentioned Kaskade and Subtronics as artists they are looking forward to seeing. They were also looking forward to Shaquille O’Neal — known as DJ Diesel — and his cancellation didn’t sit well with them. DJ Valentino Khan replaced him.

“They didn’t even switch him out for the same genre,” Hobbs said.

10:15 a.m. — This kind of speaks for itself

It’s Kellen Julian’s fourth Indy 500 — but his first with a very special addition to show his love for the sport: an Indianapolis Motor Speedway tattoo on his lower back. For this native Hoosier, it was a no-brainer.

“It’s prime real estate — you know,” Julian, 24, from Indianapolis, told IndyStar. “But I was like, it’s gotta be something special.”

Julian started coming to the race because of his Hoosier pride, but it’s evolved into something more.

“I just started coming because it was like, if you live in Indiana, you’ve gotta go to the 500,” he said. “Started following the series and now it’s like, (I) definitely have to go.” What he loves about the race is the diversity of purpose — people here for the party, for the vibes, for the culture.

But Julian? He’s here for the main event.

“I’m a die-hard race fan,” Julian told IndyStar.

9:50 a.m. — This just in: IndyStar executive editor is old

This isn't news to me, Young Millennial™ Holly Hays, but it may be to some of you. My boss, Bro Krift, took to Twitter to bravely share his experience of bringing dad energy to the Snake Pit. He later told me his head even bobbed a bit to the music.

Reflecting further, Old Man Krift said: "I think at one point my hand slapped my leg almost in rhythm. It was amazing."

Was it, though?

9:20 a.m. — As in the drink, not the trophy

IndyStar reporters have noticed a few race fans drinking jugs of colorful liquids early into the day. These might be "borgs," a new trend on college campuses.

More: Indy 500 attendees seen with jugs of liquid. What's in them?

9:05 a.m. — Rain, rain, stay away!

If you’re at the speedway right now, don’t worry about the clouds hanging overhead.

Meteorologist Earl Breon said right now, there’s a slight chance of a sprinkle in Indianapolis. But you shouldn’t feel more than a mist. He said while it’s moist now, the rain isn't expected to accumulate.

He said he expects the slight chance of rain to diminish around noon to 1 p.m.

9 a.m. — 500 fashion sure is a thing

To quote Queer Eye's style guru Tan France: "Styleis notfashion.Fashionis not trendy after a season. I couldn't give a s--t aboutfashion."

Well, Tan, you've probably never been to the Indianapolis 500-mile race. (Next year? Pretty please?)

Near the entryway of the race, a flash of yellow passes by. It's a banana.

The banana's name is Alex Chebillot — a 19-year-old racing fan who comes to events and dresses as a banana. This is his first time coming to the Indy 500, and he traveled all the way from Tampa, Florida, to be here. After work Friday, he and his father were on the road to Indianapolis.

“I did a lot of dirt racing when I was growing up, and I've always been a race fan,” Chebillot said. “Love Formula One, love NASCAR, love IndyCar.”

Kailly Stanich has been attending the Indy 500 for the better part of 10 years, so she’s familiar with the fashion — and knows how to stand out.

Cue the humorous t-shirt Stanich made specifically for today: “I just hope both teams have fun.”

And her fanny pack of a hairy belly peeking out? That’s been a mainstay for race day. “The double takes people give you are hilarious,” Stanich said.

And this isn't even the most wild stuff we'll see today. Stay tuned!

9 a.m. — Too early for a Snake Pit singalong?

8:40 a.m. — Beer and chocolate chip cookies? For breakfast? Why not

It’s the first 500 for this Hoosier — and there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“Now that I’m 21, it feels uncultured to me not to be here, yet,” Noah Jenkins, from Zionsville, told IndyStar.

Despite Jenkins’ Corona shirt, that’s not the drink of choice for these gentlemen: “Today is a big Miller day,” he said.

And obviously, the most important — brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts for race sustenance.

Spotted among the sea of cars, three friends are bringing their impeccable fashion sense to this year’s 500.

The style at Indy 500 is already out in full force — with Caden Andrews, Cade Kiselica and Lucas Ninman’s matching Hawaiian-patterned shirts. The fashion is part of a tradition. The friends — from Denver and New Mexico — have been coming to the race since 2019.

They’re rooting for Will Power — of whom Andrews especially has been a fan for years.

“We always have a good time in Indy,” Kiselica said.

Beverages of choice for the fashionable crew included a variety of seltzers and beers — and most importantly — Chips Ahoy! cookies, which have already been consumed for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner too, likely.

8:15 a.m. — Sure, but it's a good day for people-watchers

8 a.m. — Rise and shine! Breakfast is almost ready

On the outskirts near Turn 4, Alva Leisure prepares omelets with fried potatoes on a medium-sized grill. He said he always cooks in this area of IMS and has been coming to the race since he was 5 years old.

“My grandmother and father, they got me going,” Leisure said. “I think my grandma had tickets in the '40s and then it’s just grown into 2023.”

In today’s race, Leisure is rooting for Scott Dixon. Like his father, he used to be a fan of Rick Mears, and he said his father used to root against Mears’ nemesis, A.J. Foyt.

Leisure's father, who died two years ago, is now honored with a commemorative brick near Gasoline Alley.

Elsewhere, Mark McFatridge and his family are cooking breakfast burritos from a van displaying not only a checkered race flag, but also an Indy 500-themed cartoon family portrait.

At their van, they also have a coffee bar, milk, Prosecco and there will be “the traditional shotgunning of a beer,” McFatridge said.

This is McFatridge's 17th race, and his son Ryan’s fourth, and third consecutive year. As Butler grads, Mark and his family are rooting for Ed Carpenter.

7:30 a.m. — Waking up in the co*ke Lot

The sun is rising over Lot 1A, and so are race fans.

Hans Hulsebos has been coming to Indianapolis with his friend for nine Indy 500 races. They’ve been camped out in what Hulsebos calls the “party lot” since Friday, sleeping in a minivan. Hulsebos and his friend have formed a community with the race fans in the co*ke lot.

“Everybody knows each other,” he said.

When asked who he was excited to see, Hulsebos was all about national pride.

“What do you think?” he said. “I’m Dutch!"

He’s a big Rinus VeeKay fan. What he likes about IndyCar is the excitement of knowing that anyone could be crowned the winner.

“There are probably 15 guys who can win it,” he said, “and that’s awesome.”

Some last-minute packing reminders

It's shaping up to be a great day for racing — the National Weather Service is predicting mostly cloudy conditions with a high in the upper 70s. Despite the cloud cover, be sure to pack your sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Speaking of packing, take a second or two to review the list of things you can and can't bring to the track (if you've been bringing carts and wagons with you so far this month, leave them at home — they're allowed every day except race day. Strollers are OK in most places, though.).

Indy 500 bag rules: Here's what fans are allowed to bring into the Indy 500, and what to leave at home

When packing your cooler, make sure it meets IMS size limits — it cannot exceed 18”x14”x15” — and make sure you're not packing any glass containers.

You can bring beer, wine, even hard liquor (it's not explicitly outlined in the prohibited items list IMS provides), just make sure it's not stored in glass.

Can we suggest some pre-race reading?

The 500-mile race is more than a single event or a weekend or a month to us here at IndyStar. You can find a complete guide to our Indy 500 coverage here. If you're looking for some light reading as you wait for the pre-race ceremonies, check these out:

For stories about the race

  • Indy 500 predictions: Find out who NOT to pick from the IndyStar staff
  • Insider: McLaren dominates; Coyne, Rahal hang in balance — 4 storylines from 500 qualifying
  • From Alex Palou to Graham Rahal: 33 things to know about the 2023 Indy 500
  • It wasn't always called the Indy 500. How the world's best known race got its name

For stories about the people

  • Last Lap? Tony Kanaan faces mortality of IndyCar, Indy 500 career
  • Indy 500 pit crew members don't get the glory, but they're in the gym sweating for a win
  • An IMS legend: As Indy 500 drivers raced on track, he raced by scooter to deliver film
  • Blind in his right eye, Tommy Milton became first 2-time Indy 500 winner, died by suicide

For stories about the tradition

  • Why it's called Carb Day when Indy cars don't use carburetors
  • How do drivers go to the bathroom? The Indy 500 questions you were too embarrassed to ask
  • Whole, 2% or skim — but no buttermilk! Why does the Indianapolis 500 winner drink milk?

Stay tuned! There are more updates to come throughout the day. For even more coverage of the race and the party, follow IndyStar on Instagram.

Live Indy 500 fun report: Relive the parties, the infield, the Snake Pit... the bees? (2024)
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