Outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gates, the greatest spectacle during the Month of May is the onslaught of parties that accompany the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
And if ever there was a race weekend to go hard, this year is it. In celebration of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, promoters are bringing their A games and $500 ticket prices. Not since Super Bowl XLVI has the Circle City’s nightlife circuit buzzed with so many hey, buddy hook-up requests.
But not all is lost for the partygoer looking to be a part of the celebrations on a budget—there are plenty of events to choose from. From the Burger Bash to the Snake Pit After Party, here are 12 race events that will keep your engine running all weekend long.
Thursday, May 26
The weekly Thursdays on the Roof at Regions Bank Tower kicks off its summer series with a special 500 race party hosted by Mindy Winkler-Jarosinki and featuring Roc Nation songwriter Courtney Graf. The after-work social starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by music deejays GNO and Mass Appeal until 11 p.m. Regular admission is $5, but you can upgrade to a $70 VIP season pass to avoid lines and get access to a VIP bar. The rooftop can get windy, so ladies may want to save that short, flowy skirt for another day. Regions Tower Rooftop, 211 N. Pennsylvania St. $5 and up.
Friday, May 27
True race fans never miss the annual Carb Night Burger Bash. The free event, co-hosted by the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin and broadcaster Kevin Lee, brings Indy 500 fans together with drivers and celebrities for Steak ‘n Shake burgers, fries, milkshakes, and a live radio broadcast with The Fan (1070FM). A concert by the Flying Toasters follows at 9 p.m. The most casual of the race-weekend parties, the bash is rain or shine, so whatever you wore to Carb Day will do the trick. Drivers expected to attend include Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Ed Carpenter. The Pavilion at Pan Am, 201 S. Capitol Ave. Free.
Possibly the most highly anticipated event of the weekend (outside of the race) and certainly the most expensive ticket, the Maxim Indy 500 party will be the place to see and be seen, thanks in part to a performance by world-famous DJ Tiësto. Save your hottest look of the weekend for this party, as everyone there will be dressed to impress. But don’t take our word for it—the $500 ticket price says it all. You need a code to even browse tickets online (luckily, we have it—Pavilion500). Looking to go big? Like, huge? A table for 15 people (that includes six bottles champagne, three magnums of premium vodka, and three bottles premium tequila) is $17,500. Oh, and bring a little extra cash on top of that—gratuity is not included. The Pavilion at Pan Am, 201 S. Capitol Ave. $500.
Saturday, May 28
Northsiders can get in on the weekend festivities without having to go south of 86th Street at Bella Vita’s free 500 Beach Bash. If this first-time event is anything like past parties on the marina, expect to see plenty of expensive cars at the curb and girls in bikinis—yes, even at night, although club-going attire wouldn’t be out of place, either. If you prefer to hold court and watch people dance to live music around (and in) the wading pool, cabanas are available to rent. Bella Vita, 11699 Fall Creek Rd. Free.
The night before the race, old-school movers and shakers will step right up to Spectacle: A Night Circus, or as it’s better known, the Snakepit Ball, co-hosted by Andrew Luck and girlfriend Nicole Pechanec. Tickets, $300, are sold out, but should you suspect you might find yourself the recipient of a last-minute invite, have a black-and-white ensemble on hand. Already have your tickets? You’ll want comfortable shoes to keep up with the crowd rocking out to Walk Off the Earth. Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington St. $300 (sold out).
Following an international tour in Brazil and a performance at the Kentucky Derby, Music Row’s Independent Band of the Year, The Chris Weaver Band, will perform at The Race Party. Presented by Lionsgate, ABC’s Nashville (recently cancelled—but maybe not permanently!), and more, you can expect to spot a number of celebs. Past event attendees include Ludacris, Derek Hough, Patrick Dempsey, and Nick Lachey. Again, the rooftop can be quite windy—plan your outfit and hair accordingly. Regions Tower Rooftop, 211 N. Pennsylvania St. $50 to $150.
After a night out partying at Cadillac Ranch and Bartini’s, most people wake up with nothing to show for it but a hangover. At this event, though, you could score one of 100 prizes, from gift cards and T-shirts to cornhole boards and a $500 grand prize—but only if you purchase a ticket in advance and stick around until 1:30 a.m. Cadillac Ranch and Bartini’s Indy, 39 Jackson Place. $10 advance, $300 to $500 VIP tickets.
Looking for a place to spot celebs from A to C on the list? After a four-year hiatus, the FANtasty 500 party is back on the race-weekend party circuit with a live performance by Naughty by Nature and music by DJ Craze and Indy’s DJ Gno. Past hosts and attendees of the sell-out event include Mark Wahlberg, Mario Lopez, Catt Sadler, IndyCar drivers, Playmates, and more. This year’s event will be hosted by local TV personality Larra Overton and Project Runway model Holly Ridings. VIP tables range from $540 for five people to $2,490 for a group of 30, which includes bottle service, expedited entry, security, and gratuity. The Pavilion at Pan Am, 201 S. Capitol Ave. General admission $15 women, $25 men, $50 four-pack.
This event, sponsored by Fuzzy’s Vodka, has yet to announce many details, but features DJ Scene and Indy’s own DJ Hugh Jeffner. Revel Nightclub and Lounge, 225 S. Meridian St.
Sunday, May 29
After the checkered flag drops, there’s just enough time to get home, take a disco nap, drink as much water as possible, do a shot, and get ready to do it all again without even so much as a wardrobe change. Dylan Ragland, aka Party Favor, along with local DJs Hugh Jeffner, Cadillac G, Dylan Menfee, and Conart, will keep the music pumping until 3 a.m. Save a few bucks by purchasing a four-pack of tickets online in advance for $70. The Pavilion at Pan Am, 201 S. Capitol Ave. $20 general admission.
If you’re looking to celebrate the race with IndyCar drivers, there are a number of options. One is the Ritmo Mundo Driver’s Party hosted by Conor Daly at Revel Nightclub and Lounge. Drivers tend to support each other at post-race parties (win or lose), so you never know who else might stop by. Revel Nightclub and Lounge, 225 S. Meridian St.
If you couldn’t care less about seeing drivers and celebs, add this no-hassle spot to your list. That’s not to say any won’t stop by, but this event, hosted by Keisha Nicole of Hot 96.3 and featuring DJ Limelight and DJ Trouble, promises to be a good time no matter who is in the house. And it’s friendly on your wallet—just $5. Social, 245 S. McCrea St. $5.