- There is the Balloon Festival at the track where hot air balloons take flight in the morning for a race of their own. At night, a balloon lighting takes place at the track (beautiful really, all those balloons lit up like candles) with free concerts. Last year, a group of friends and I made our way to the track and enjoyed the festivities. Ryan Cabrera and Josh Kelley were playing - I love me some JK!
From last year - Josh & Ryan - cuties for sure
- The 500 Festival Parade - I don't really know much about it because I have never been. But many of the race car drivers show up and parade around downtown. Much fun for families as they celebrate the holiday weekend. Plus, floats are fun, I like parades.
- Various walk/runs around the city - more specifically - The Mini. It sells out every year and is insanely big. I know many people who train and run/walk it (mad props to all of you!) These people always inspire me - and I even now want to run a 5K. I know, it's no mini-marathon, but I'll take it. Anyone want to join me for Disney's Villain 5K?!
The first event of the weekend was actually Carb Day. As my hubby likes to say, "Party before the race," Carb Day is just that. I invited my friend MM to join me for the day as we took our VIP tickets (thank you Hilton!) and made our way to the track. We expected to see many "Hoosierific" delights, but due to our suite, we saw a much more tame environment. The bikinis with jean shorts, mullets, and drunken debacles were far from where we were. A few photos to highlight the day:
A view of the "pole" and track during practice
Our VIP treatment included tickets to the garage - up close for sure!
Sara Fisher - "It's an Indiana tradition!"
I cheer for Team Target (Ganassi of course - right hubby?!)
We like being VIPs!
Indy 500 - the actual race - was the next big event. I went with some near and dear friends early in the morning. We expected a long line to park, but we lucked out. In less than 30 minutes, we left our respective homes in Carmel and made it to our parking spot. Insane right? We instantly grabbed our gear and tailgated - with breakfast sandwiches and cinnamon rolls of course.
Ready to make our way inside to the track
We then made our way into the infield after a minor walk. Not too bad, but it was hot my friends, and only going to get hotter. We are part of history, being that it was the hottest race ever. Really, it wasn't the humidity, but with the sun beating down on you - hot. Shade was a necessity, as you will see from my photo recap.
Yup - there is a golf course INSIDE the track. Three holes to be exact. Now you didn't expect that did you?
We were in the in field, but hubby's friend from work saved us a spot so we had a good view. Wish we were in an area with a jumbo screen (we were between turn 2 and 3,) but it was a good experience. Lots of water (and other beverages) were consumed, but really, lots of water to ensure we didn't get sick from the heat.
After, we trekked back to the car (thank you SM for driving!) for some hot dogs and sausages on the grill. As the traffic thinned, we continued to enjoy our day. By the time we were ready, traffic was gone (this was only one hour or so) and we were on our way back to the 'burbs. (I highly encourage you to do this - that traffic just didn't look fun.)
Did I have fun? Yes.
Was it loud? Yes, but not unbearable.
What was my favorite part? The introductions for sure, when the pace cars went around and the drivers waved.
Will I go again? I can now say that I've been to race. I've had my experience with some dear friends - but I'm good - don't think I'll go back again. BUT, I do encourage those who live in Indy (or visit) to attend the race. It is one of those "you've got to go for the experience" type of events. And some people I know go every year and LOVE it, which is fantastic too!
So should YOU go? Absolutely, at least once.