Pro Tips For Indy 500 Infield First-Timers
If I’ve learned anything from attending the past 10 Indy 500s (the last four as a professional member of the media, the first six not so much), it’s that there’s no such thing as being over-prepared, especially in the infield. Sometimes, I found out the hard way. Now you don’t have to.
1. Arrive early. Please. I’m talking before-the-sun-rises early (gates open at 6 a.m.). Traffic is even worse than you’ve heard, and a lot of the parking is forever away from the entrances.
2. Rest up. Because you don’t want to pull a “Jennifer” and wake up late on the morning of. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than frantically trying to stuff everything you own into a tiny backpack—do I need four back-up shirts? OMG, PROBABLY—while digging like a madman through the dirty clothes hamper for your trashiest jean shorts.
3. If you can pull an all-nighter and still have your life together the next morning, I want to be you.
4. Wear comfy shoes. You will spend most of the day walking. Oh, will you walk.
5. Wear a fanny pack. It’ll help you carry the essentials, while keeping your hands free for important stuff like guzzling beer and waving down that one friend who strayed from the group yet again.
6. Dress the part, but don’t be dumb. Sure, this is the one day of the year when you can wear whatever the hell you want. (And I do mean whatever: Hello, slutty jean overalls and American-flag Speedos and anything else we’ve been pretending to hate but dying to wear!). But don’t you dare get carried away and wear uncomfortable shoes (read above) or something that will leave crazy tan lines. Just don’t.
7. Sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. It’s all fun and good times when you’re in the sun, not so much when you’re slathering yourself with aloe in the muggy corner of an infield bathroom later that day. Not cute. Or so I’ve been told.
8. Bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You’ll understand why when you see the infield bathrooms.
9. Carry the right-sized cooler (18″ by 14″ by 14″), or security will ask you to leave yours behind at the gate. But what about all my booze?! Exactly.
10. Bring a radio to listen along if you’re actually there to watch the race (yeah, some people watch the race). The track PA announcer is hard to hear, and the cars look like blurs from the infield.
11. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Boozing is a blast, but not when you can barely make it through the last stretch of the race because your tummy hurts.
12. Check the weather forecast the night before and pack accordingly. Showers might delay the on-track action, but the infield show goes on, rain or shine.
13. Plan on not having phone service, the result of a couple hundred thousand people drunk-dialing and texting tipsy pics—all at once. Have a group meet-up plan in case you get separated and can’t communicate. And never, ever, leave a man behind.