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2023 Indy 500 Preview

Photo of Indy cars in their signature three-row formation on the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sports

Motorsports enthusiasts across the United States and around the globe are waiting for the green flag to fly on the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28. Thankfully for IndyCar fans, there are plenty of opportunities to see their favorite drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the lead up to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. In addition to the cars racing at speeds in excess of 220 mph, there are also many entertainment options available for the casual Indy 500 attendee. 

Don’t miss your chance to see the iconic pre-race traditions and watch motorsports history unfold before your very eyes by securing your Indy 500 tickets!

The History of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the brainchild of Carl G. Fisher, who wanted to build the ultimate facility to test the abilities of the early automobile. Construction began in early 1909 and the first races were held on the brick-paved track that summer. On Memorial Day in 1911, the first-ever International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race was held at IMS with many international drivers and car manufacturers participating in the event. The inaugural Indy 500 was won by American driver Ray Harroun, who completed the 500-mile test of endurance in under seven hours with an average speed of 74.602 mph. 

The highly-successful race became an annual event with the exception of a two-year break for World War I and a four-year break for World War II. As the Indy 500 grew through the years, the race became a significant piece of American culture with champions like AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti becoming household names. The sold out 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 drew a record crowd of 350,000 race fans that saw Alexander Rossi win the race in his rookie attempt. Many race day traditions such as the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana and the race winner drinking a bottle of milk in victory lane have become as important to fans as the race itself.

Month of May and Indy 500 Schedule

Friday, May 12

8 a.m. ET – GMR Grand Prix Practice & Qualifying

The Month of May for the IndyCar Series begins with the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. During the weekend, fans will also get to see the Indy NXT, USF Pro 2000 and USF2000 series compete.

Saturday, May 13

8 a.m. ET – GMR Grand Prix Road To Indy & Indy NXT Races

3:30 p.m. ET – GMR Grand Prix IndyCar Race

Tuesday, May 16

9 a.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Practice – Opening Day

The IndyCar Series drivers return to IMS on Tuesday, May 16 for the opening day of Indy 500 practice. Opening Day is unique from other practice days in that it features multiple sessions for different types of drivers. The first practice session is reserved for full-time veteran drivers and will be held from 9 a.m.–11:15 a.m. ET. A second practice session from 1 p.m.–3 p.m. ET will be held for rookies needing to go through the Rookie Orientation Program as well as veterans that need to go through their Refresher course before joining the other veterans on track. Full field Indy 500 practice will begin at 3 p.m. ET and lasts until 6 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, May 17

12 p.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Practice

Thursday, May 18

12 p.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Practice

Friday, May 19

12 p.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Practice – Fast Friday

Turn up the boost! Fast Friday is the final Indy 500 practice session before the drivers begin Indy 500 Time Trials on Saturday and Sunday. The appropriately named Fast Friday will see the quickest speeds of the month as the turbo boost on the engines is turned up and crews begin trimming out the downforce on their cars to prepare for qualifying runs.

Saturday, May 20

8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Qualifications – Day 1

The first day of Indy 500 Qualifying will lock the top 30 drivers into the field based on their four-lap average speed. Cars that qualify in positions 31 and lower are not locked into the race and will return to IMS the next day for the Last Row Shootout. The top 12 from this round of qualifying will also return on Sunday to requalify for a shot at the pole position.

Sunday, May 21

8 a.m.–6 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Qualifications – Day 2

The Last Row Shootout on the second day of Indy 500 Qualifications will see the non-locked in drivers make one final qualifying run for a chance at one of the last three positions in the field. The top 12 drivers from Saturday will then take to the track to make additional qualifying runs. Positions 7–12 in those runs will be locked into that starting position for the Indy 500, while the drivers in positions 1–6 will move into Fast Six qualifying for the Indy 500 pole position.

Monday, May 22

1 p.m.–3 p.m. ET – Indianapolis 500 Practice

Friday, May 26

11 a.m.–1 p.m. ET – Miller Lite Carb Day – Final Practice

2:30 p.m.–4 p.m. ET – Miller Lite Carb Day –  Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge

4 p.m.–6 p.m. ET – Miller Lite Carb Day Concert featuring Bryan Adams & Soul Asylum

It’s Carb Day! Originally known as Carburetion Day prior to the 1960s as it was the last day for teams to tune their carburetors before the big race, Carb Day is the final practice session for the IndyCar drivers and teams to ensure their car is perfect for race day. After practice is complete, a party atmosphere takes over the track with the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge starting in the afternoon, which is then followed by a concert in Turn 3. 

Fans will want to be sure to get their Carb Day tickets to see Bryan Adams and Soul Asylum perform live at the concert!

Saturday, May 27

9 a.m. ET – Legends Day Autograph Sessions & Public Drivers Meeting

Noon ET – 500 Festival Parade in Downtown Indianapolis

7 p.m. ET – Legends Day Concert featuring Brad Paisley, Russell Dickerson and Jackson Dean at TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park

Legends Day is a relaxed day at IMS with no on-track activity, but plenty of fun and events for the family. Race fans can get autographs from the drivers racing in this year’s Indy 500 and legends from the past. There’s also the Indy 500 drivers meeting, where fans can see last year’s race winner collect their baby Borg-Warner Trophy and watch the drivers receive their starters’ ring and race day instructions before taking the green flag on Sunday.

At noon, fans can head to downtown Indianapolis for the 500 Festival Parade, which is one of the largest parades in the United States! Attendees get to see grand floats, marching bands, previous Indy champions and the 33 drivers that will compete in the Indy 500. 

Legends Day wouldn’t be complete without the traditional country music concert that takes place on the night before the Indianapolis 500. Get your Legends Day Concert tickets to see Brad Paisley, Russell Dickerson and Jackson Dean share the stage!

Sunday, May 28

6 a.m. ET – Cannon Fires and IMS Gates Open

7 a.m. ET – Snake Pit featuring Kaskade, Subtronics, John Summit, DJ Diesel (aka Shaquille O’Neal) and Jauz

Looking for a party? Be sure to get your Indy 500 Snake Pit tickets to see the top EDM stars in the world performing on race day. The Snake Pit is an all-day concert experience that takes place on the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway near Turn 3. Festivities start at 8 a.m. with live music lasting until the end of the race. This year’s Snake Pit lineup features Kaskade, Subtronics, John Summit, Diesel (aka Shaquille O’Neal) and Jauz!

The Snake Pit requires both an Indy 500 ticket and a Snake Pit wristband for entry.

12:45 p.m. ET – Green Flag Start of the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500

Race day morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a special occasion for motorsports fans. Be sure to get to the track early to enjoy the traditional pre-race festivities including the Borg-Warner Trophy March to the Yard of Bricks, songs by the Purdue All-American Marching Band, the performance of Taps and the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana by Jim Cornelison. At 12:45 p.m., the moment every racing fan waits for all year arrives when the green flag flies to start the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500!

Storylines to watch at the 2023 Indy 500

Nine Former Champions Competing

The 2023 Indianapolis 500 will feature one of the stoutest fields in history with nine former race champions competing. Helio Castroneves leads the pack of active drivers with four Indy 500 victories, sharing that feat with AJ Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. With another win, Helio would become the winningest driver in Indy 500 history. Chip Ganassi Racing is fielding entries for three of the nine former race winners: defending Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson, two-time champion Takuma Sato and Scott Dixon.

Scott Dixon

Speaking of Scott Dixon, “The Iceman” has won six IndyCar Series championships and sits 2nd all-time on the IndyCar Series win list with 53 victories to his credit. Dixon has earned the Indy 500 pole position five times during his career, but his lone race victory came in 2008. After a dominant performance in 2022 that unraveled due to a penalty for speeding in pit lane on the final pit stop of the race, Scott Dixon will be looking for some redemption and the chance to kiss the bricks for a second time. 

Team Penske

Team Penske is the most dominant team in the history of the Indianapolis 500 with 18 victories since the team first entered the race in 1969. Penske’s most recent Indy 500 victory occurred in 2019 when Simon Pagenaud won the race in a dominant fashion. Since the 2019 event, the team has struggled to find speed at IMS with only two top-five finishes over the last four years. Fans will be paying attention all month long to see if Penske’s drivers, made up of Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin and 2018 Indy 500 champion Will Power, can get their mojo back during the Month of May.

Bump Day

Only the fastest 33 drivers qualify for the Indianapolis 500 and this year’s race has 34 entries, meaning one driver will be “bumped” from the field after Indy 500 Qualifications on May 21. Bump Day drama is a major part of Indy 500 lore and big upsets have occurred over the years such as Team Penske failing to make the race in 1994 and McLaren being bumped in 2019 by underdog Juncos Racing. 

Indianapolis 500 Tickets

Fans wanting to be a part of the largest single-day sporting event in the world should grab their Indy 500 tickets as soon as possible. Reserved seating and infield general admission options are available, allowing fans to choose their race day experience. If you’re looking for a place to stay during race week, HotelPlanner can help you find hotel options in and around Indianapolis.