Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Home of the Indianapolis 500
Experience the Park Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fan Guide
Check Out Qualifying
Don’t want to pay the higher race-day prices or brave the crush of a few hundred thousand Indy 500 fans? Check out qualifying instead. It’s a great way for both die-hard fans and casual ones who couldn’t tell one driver from another to soak up some of the spirit of May in Indianapolis. The crowds are lighter, the atmosphere more casual and the ticket prices significantly lower.
Qualifying is held the last two weekends before the race and it’s only $10 at the gate; kids 5 and under are free, so it’s a great chance for them to experience Indy (don’t forget the ear plugs). The first Saturday is known as Pole Day, when the top spots are filled with the fastest drivers. Once the top spots are full, the other drivers can “bump” them, though. On Sunday, more positions are filled, and the process is repeated the following Saturday and Sunday. The last Sunday is referred to as Bump Day, the day the qualifiers may wake up feeling a little nervous – it’s the final chance for a driver to post a faster time than a qualified entrant in the starting field of 33 and bump the slowest qualifier out.
There are also mid-week practice sessions throughout the month when admission is just $5; check out the IMS Web site for the schedule (click on the ‘Schedule’ tab). Then there’s Carb Day (admission $10). This is held the Friday before the race and is a chance for the starting 33 to get in some practice free of the pressures and adjustments called for in qualifying. It was called ‘Carburetion Day’ because it used to involve adjustment to the carburetors. The name has stuck even though fuel injection meant carburetors were retired decades ago. The Firestone Freedom 100 is run that day and there’s a pit crew challenge and a concert.