Top Indy 500 drivers—and their fans and arm candy—descended on downtown’s Sensu late Sunday night for the “Big Finish” party. First-time 500 driver Wade Cunningham hosted the affair, where dance songs zoomed by as uproariously as an Indy car, and where the day’s big winner himself elected to celebrate race night.
Just after 1 a.m., Dario Franchitti strode through the front door at Sensu, looking relaxed and cool in a white t-shirt and black baseball hat. The three-time Indy 500 victor walked around the club’s front bar without any obtrusive bodyguards to block fans’ handshakes or cellphone photos. Franchitti and second-place finisher, teammate Scott Dixon, talked and laughed near the popping, packed dance floor. Franchitti’s wife, Ashley Judd, herself a native of Oscar bonanzas, skipped the party entirely.
Franchitti and Dixon weren’t the only top drivers who picked Sensu to wind down and cool off after one of the hottest race days ever. Sixth-place finisher James Hinchcliffe was in high spirits, stopping to pose in a blonde wig and sunglasses on the bar’s red carpet and greeting fans along the way. We congratulated him on a good finish: “Even better next year,” he promised.
Other notables populating the VIP tables included BMX biker Nigel Sylvester, pro skateboarder Terry Kennedy, and rapper Bun B. Snappy DJing by Gabby Love, Indiana Jones and DJ Lockstar kept things lively and loud. House remixes of songs like “Empire State of Mind” and “Wild Ones” were popular, but—with all that turntable talent up in the booth—couldn’t someone have remixed Jim Nabors’ “Back Home Again in Indiana,” just for the nostalgia factor?
Painter Bill Patterson created a piece live in the room in tribute to Dan Wheldon that was put up for auction at the party. The painting of Wheldon’s IndyCar machine occupied a prime spot on the main floor of the bar, a quiet placeholder for the late close friend of Franchitti and Dixon, both pallbearers at his funeral.
If you were looking for the most famous faces of the Indy 500, Sensu was the place to spot them, further solidifying the restaurant-bar’s reputation as the top choice for pretty people-watching in downtown Indianapolis.
Photos by Heike Baird and Jonathan Scott