WORST (or BEST) of the Indianapolis 500 Infield People Watching



The Indianapolis 500 is the world’s highest attended single day event. Its total capacity is approximately 400,000 with about 125,000 located in the cheapest and most “festive” seats of the infield.

All newbies marvel at the sheer size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway upon entering it the first time. The modern day answer to Circus Maximus is large enough to hypothetically house the Vatican, Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium and the Rose Bowl all at the same time.


A Parade Lap of Unforgettable People

While patrolling the infield like Ryne Sandberg, numerous people left an impression on me.

A military bomb at 6am symbolizes the opening of the gates. It’s also the same time one must leave to overcome traffic and get a good infield spot for the 1pm starting time. Why they open all six lanes of thoroughfare on the way out, but only use three lanes on the way in is beyond reason. Also beyond reason is the purchase of 16 cases of Keystone Light which I see transported in wagons by college kids.

Later, I see crushed beer cans serving as clamps, affixing a chart of the racers to the inner fence. I’ve also seen Busch Light and Old Milwaukee cans placed on the ground in a pattern to spell the words “tits” and “boobs.” Other people watching highlights include an individual who “manscaped” the number “500” into his chest hair; and numerous mullets, rat-tails, Zubaz outfits and checkered pants.

Because of the old Atari game, I know what “Pole Position” actually is, but when asked, I remark:

“what my friend Season is assigned at her job every Saturday night.”

The amount of boisterous laughter this joke receives tells me that these people must have been drinking heavily since 5 A.M; because the remark is sort of funny, but not really all THAT funny.

This leads right in to my favorite racing fan story.

I hear about past racing fans who constructed a stripper pole in their tailgating area. Not a temporary makeshift pole mind you, but a cemented into-the-ground-with-Sakrete stripper pole, right in front of someone’s trailer. (a triple wide to be exact)

Obviously, these men spend WAY too much time at some place called the “Classy Chassis.”



Although the event’s overall carbon footprint is frightening, there are numerous environmentally friendly messages at the race. The starting flag isn’t the only thing that’s green (well, not really, but hey they put on a good PR face!). If America is to free itself from petrolist foreign states, this is the right place to pitch the message: an event preceded by four nationalistic songs and an F-33 Raptor fly-over, taking place on a war memorial holiday weekend.

Lots of American flag do-rags on display further exemplify how the crowd is filled with patriots. (just not New England Patriots, as the Pats are more persona non grata in Indy than they’ve ever been!)

Just like Boston College is located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and Miami University in Coral Gables, FL, the Indianapolis 500 takes place in the town of Speedway, IN. Indiana’s state quarters feature Indy race cars and the state nickname is “the Crossroads of America.”

This accurately reflects the importance of automobiles in the state; and the country as a whole.


Attempts to contact Indianapolis 500 infield ticket holders for comment on this article were unsuccessful. These attempts were unsuccessful because I actually never made any attempt.

editor’s note: this is being republished, as we re-run it every year on this weekend, from 2007

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. Banks, a former writer for the Washington TimesNBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN

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  1. copyeditor says

    Love It!

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