Community Indy 500

Month Of May Schedule at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Flowers are blooming. Trees are finally getting leaves on them. The grass is finally greener. That means one thing in Indiana – the Month of May. This weekend, will mark the annual One America Mini Marathon in downtown Indianapolis which is has become “unofficial” start to all things racing in May.

Last week, we got our first taste of what’s to come with the NTT IndyCar Series test day out at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 24. That got our motors running. Now, we’re almost there.

Here’s a daily breakdown of what to expect each day at IMS.

Friday, May 10

If you’re a motorsports enthusiast, this day is for you. While some are still a little slow to open up to it, the IndyCar Grand Prix has become a great addition to the Month of May. This year, will mark the sixth time the IndyCar Series has raced on the 2.39-mile infield road course at IMS and like the previous five times, it’s a must see race weekend.

Some still haven’t figured out that these are the exact same race cars that you’ll see in the Indy 500 a few weeks later. Other than some aero changes, which the common fan really won’t recognize, these are the exact same cars being driven by the exact same drivers on the exact same track.

What makes this particular day stand out from the rest, is from 8 a.m. to almost 6 p.m. you can see race cars on the track nearly the entire time. All three ladders of the Road to Indy will hit the track on this day too, meaning you’ll have practice, qualifying and even some races to take in.

Gates open at 7:30 a.m. with the first session taking place at 8 a.m. for USF2000 qualifying. After they’re done, the Indy Pro 2000 series will qualify at 8:35 a.m. Then, the IndyCar starts will hit the track for the first time of the weekend at 9:10 a.m. for a 45 minute practice session. After that, the Indy Lights drivers will qualify at 10:10 a.m.

Then, they repeat all of this all over again. The reason? The three ladder series’ will race twice this weekend meaning two rounds of qualifying followed by a second round of IndyCar practice at 12:30 p.m.

Once that practice is done, you will be treated to three races with qualifying to set the field for Saturday’s IndyCar Grand Prix concluding the day with a 4:30 p.m. start.

Admission for this day is $20.

Schedule of Events

7:30 am Gates Open

8-8:20 am USF2000 Quals

8:35-8:55 am Indy Pro 2000 Quals

9:10-9:55 am IndyCar Practice

10:10-10:40 am Indy Lights Quals

10:55-11:15 am USF2000 Quals

11:30-11:50 am Indy Pro 2000 Quals

12:30-1:15 pm IndyCar Practice

1:30 p.m. Indy Lights Race

2:45 pm USF2000 Race

3:35 pm Indy Pro 2000 Race

4:30 pm IndyCar Quals


Saturday, May 11

It’s race day! Unlike the big race day 15 days later, this one will feature several things to see before the main event start at 3:30 p.m. Like the day before, you can show up early and be treated to coffee, breakfast and the smell of burning rubber pounding the pavement by 8:30 a.m.

The Indy Lights qualifying for their second race starts at 8:30 a.m. Overall, you’ll be treated to qualifying, a practice session and four races all in a span of nine hours.

This is also a much more family friendly event because the race is 85 Laps compared to 200 on the oval for the Indy 500. Normally, this race will run from start to finish in a duration of just a couple of hours.

Take your family to the spectator mounds and allow the kids to run around and play and not have to be forced to remain in one seat in a metal grandstand for the entire day.

Then, when it’s all said and done, take part in the Race Track Invasion where fans can walk on the very track that all these cars just raced on. There will be plenty of signs on where to enter the track.

Admission starts at $30.

Schedule of Events

7:30 am Gates Open

8:30-9 am Indy Lights Quals

9;15 am USF2000 Race

10:10 am Indy Pro 2000 Race

11:15-11:45 am IndyCar Final Practice

1:15 pm Indy Lights Race

3:30 pm IndyCar Grand Prix

Tuesday, May 14

At this point, the cars have been converted to oval set ups and the track has been prepped and switched oval to oval configuration as 36 drivers will take to the famed 2.5-mile oval for the opening day of Indy 500 practice.

This day though, is different than the rest in that we have Rookie Orientation and Veteran Refresher programs to handle.

Four of the eight rookies completed their three phases on the April 24 test session while four more need to complete theirs. Also, Fernando Alonso, Helio Castroneves, Oriol Servia, JR Hildebrand and others need to finish their veteran refreshers too.

That means from the first two hours of practice are for the full time participants to go along with the four rookies who already completed their orientation last week. Then, for the two hours after that session ends, it’s time for the rest of the rookies and the veteran refreshers to ease into their speed brackets.

The final three hours of the day will consist of everyone at that point.

Admission is $15.

Schedule of Events

10 am Gates Open

11-1 pm Veteran Practice

1-3 pm Rookie Orientation/Veteran Refreshers

3-6 pm Indy 500 Practice For All Eligible Cars


Wednesday, May 15-Friday, May 17

These are three of the more intense practice days you’ll see this month. But, all three days will also be different too.

Wednesday, will be another day of getting up to speed. Thursday, will be the final day on race day boost levels, where Friday is Fast Friday with the quickest speeds of the month being set.

See, for Fast Friday and in qualifying, IndyCar turns the boost levels up on the engines by 10kpa. In laymen’s terms? They’re faster. That means the speeds are a good 3-5 mph quicker on Friday-Sunday than what you’ll see on Tuesday-Thursday.

So, why practice qualifying runs earlier in the week before you receive that added horsepower on Friday morning? That means Wednesday and Thursday that you’ll see a lot of group running with teams trying to create a race day like practice. We normally see a ton of laps logged and a race day like session for the price of $15.

Friday, well cars typically try to spread out more but we will see speeds easily eclipsing 230 mph. That’s why it’s called Fast Friday. The crowds are bigger and the intensity level is huge on the teams part.  

Admission is $15 each day.

Schedule Of Events

10 am Gates Open

11-6 pm Indy 500 Practice

Saturday, May 18

This is where things really become real. Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is one of the most intense days of a drivers’ life. With only single cars making laps at a time, this weekend is a great opportunity for families to bring their kids due to noise levels.

This year too, is a revised qualifying format.

The drama on Saturday, May 18 will be intense with competitors battling for one of the 30 locked-in starting positions and a berth in the Fast Nine Shootout the following day. Each entry is guaranteed one attempt and multiple four-lap runs may be made as time permits. Cars in positions 10 through 30 at the end of first-day qualifying on May 18 are locked into those starting spots for the race and will not re-qualify the next day.

That means drivers will try to get into the top three Rows to run for the pole on Sunday but also on the flip side try to stay away from falling past Row 10 because they may not make the field all together on Sunday either.

Admission is $20.

Schedule of Events

7 am Gates Open

8-9:30 am Qualifying Practice

11-5:50 pm Indy 500 Time Trials

Sunday, May 19

NBC’s coverage on Sunday, May 19 (12-3 p.m.) will feature two highly competitive battles – for the last three starting positions in the field of 33 and the pole-deciding Fast Nine Shootout to determine the starting order of the first three rows.

This is the pure definition of the thrill of victory for the pole winner and the agony of defeat for the three teams that don’t make the race. The drama from the start of practice at 10:45 to the end of qualifying around 2 p.m. will be intense with a lot of emotions flowing.

Then, if that’s not big enough, stay around for nearly three full hours of race practice after. The break between qualifying and practice will be enough for teams to switch their cars from qualifying trim back to race levels for the first time since Thursday.

The reason this practice session was added was because of how great the new Monday practice session has been. See, when that session came to fruition in 2014, it became the best practice session of any series for any race on any track in the entire world. It is literally like race day.

All 33 cars on the track battling for track position to make their cars perfect for race day. IMS officials knew that holding a practice session of that magnitude on a Monday of race week, especially with Carb Day later on in the week, was the best kept secret in sports. Not many people could take two days off of work in the same week to come to IMS. So, why not create that magic on Sunday for more to witness?

Admission is $20.

Schedule of Events

9 am Gates Open

10:15-10:45 am Fast Nine Shootout Practice

10:45-11:15 am Last Row Shootout Practice

12:15 pm Last Row Shootout Qualifying

1:15 pm Fast Nine Shootout Qualifying

3:15-6 pm Indy 500 Practice


Monday, May 20

Due to the new session added on Sunday post qualifying, this day was shortened. We now have two hours which will be all out running. With Indy Lights on track this day too, it’s a must see event if you can make it out.

Admission is $15.

Schedule of Events

10 am Indy Lights Practice (Not open to public)

12 pm Gates Open

12-2 pm Indy 500 Practice

2:30-4 pm Indy Lights Practice


Friday, May 24 (Miller Lite Carb Day)

I’m shocked this day hasn’t become an Indiana holiday yet. The second biggest crowd of the entire year for IMS is at Carb Day. See, more fans come to Carb Day than a Colts game. Each year, this place packs between 70-100k of fans on this party day.

While the cars are on track for 90 minutes, this has annual become one of the best days of the year. You don’t have the capacity of race day nor the show, but you get an all out party atmosphere for 70,000 of your closest friends.

Once the final Indy 500 practice is over, you will get treated to a 40 Lap Indy Lights race which always ends in thrilling fashion. Then, stay on the front stretch and witness a pit stop contest where a live DJ spins dance hits through the speakers where fans in the stands dance the contest away where race teams hold a tournament to see who can hold the bragging right of the fastest pit crew.

Once this is wrapped up, head to the Turn 4 infield for the Miller Lite concert where Foreigner and Kool and the Gang will serenade the crowd for 2+ hours.

Admission $30

Schedule Of Events

8 am Gates Open

11-12:30 pm Indy 500 Final Practice

1 pm Freedom 100 (Indy Lights Race)

2-3:30 pm Pit Stop Competition

3:30 pm Concerts


Saturday, May 25 (Firestone Legends Day)

The quietest day of the month for on track activity is this day. If you come out hoping to see cars on the famed 2.5-mile oval, you’ll be disappointed. See, Legends Day is all about the public drivers meeting and autographs. Then, where Carb Day is for Rock n Roll enthusiasts, Legends Day is for the country music crowd.

The big concert start in the afternoon with Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band headlining the Firestone Legends Day event. Chart-topping country artist Carly Pearce and Clayton Anderson have been added to a star-studded lineup for the country music fanatics.


Sunday, May 26 (103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500)

The close out to what should be a wonderful month is here. After all the build up, it’s time to crown an Indy 500 champion. Everyone needs a ticket to get into the track as they range from $35 for general admission and up to $60+ for a reserved seat.

The pre race pageantry will be enough to put you to tears before you witness the bright colors of 33 of the best drivers in the world trying to cement their name into racing lore.

The Indy 500 is one of the biggest sporting events in the world as 300k spectators make this the largest one day sporting event on Earth.