Indy 500: Snakepit Style

The Indianapolis 500 should be on everyone’s list of things to do before they die. For all of you Indiana outsiders rolling your eyes, the Midwest does it best. You can do the 500 as ritzy or as a podunk as you please. As stereotypically hillbilly as it can get with jorts, spending days in the Coke Lot without showering, and drinking more beer than water, it can be equally ritzy in suites with celebrities who attended the Snakepit Ball the night prior.

It’s easy to get a seat at the 500; it’s the world’s largest single day sporting event and can hold approximately 400,000 people. What’s not as easy is surviving some of the activities that take place inside the 2.5 mile track. I.E. the Snakepit. The Snakepit is a raging/insane/nonstop concert inside of Turn 3. This year the acts were Diplo, Axwell Ingrosso, and Deadmau5. Did I know any of this music? Nope. Did I have a desire to party with thousands of people on the hottest race day in history? Nope. I was a 2015 500 Festival Princess and I have done the Indianapolis 500 in style for the last three years, but the Snakepit has always been on my bucket list. So, May 27, 2018, was the day I checked that one off for the rest of my life.

So how was it? Hell. On. Earth. Part of me left Florida to escape the heat only to come home to a 96 degree race day. I packed four bottles of water, used them all, and still had to buy more. It was all I could do to drag my lifeless body back to my car and I left halfway through the race. Here are some of my dos and dont’s for surviving the Snakepit.

Do:

  • Pack water. On the radio they were saying one bottle of water to every three beers- I’m saying three waters to every one beer. (Okay maybe that is drastic.) “Beer is not water. Beer is fun.” It’s EMT city at the Snakepit and the ambulance comes and goes as fast as it can haul all unconscious bodies out. Last year we witnessed a guy seizing from drugs at 8:00 a.m. He didn’t even make it inside Snakepit.
  • Tailgate. Even if you don’t want to drive your car in or be in charge of tailgating, know somebody who will be. There is no shade or cover at the Snakepit. When the gates open at 7:00 a.m., by 10:00 a.m. you are starting to feel that sun creeping up your neck. One person with a small tent was our saving grace for a little relief.
  • Bring food. There aren’t many places to purchase things in the infield where Snakepit is located, so either bring a backpack of snacks or know someone who will have food. Option three, bring something to trade for food, be it a little cash, your good looks, or beer.

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    One Reddit user’s survival tips for the Snakepit from 2015.

  • Sunscreen. You are a damn fool if you think you can go without it for 7 hours in the sun. Spray bottles definitely work the best in this case because you don’t really want it all over your hands with nowhere to wash it off. It’s also easy to spritz other people as needed without touching their disgusting, sweatiness.
  • Get there early. Gates open at 7? Get there at 6. Tailgating starts at 6? Get there at 5. Traffic going in to IMS is record breaking and unbeatable. Everyone knows to get their ass up early, get in the car, and plan for an afternoon nap when the race ends.
  • Rep America. If you don’t have some form of the American Flag on your body, you can turn around and walk right back out those gates. This is the most American thing you will do all year, hands down, and you better be damn proud of it. Otherwise, don’t worry about what you wear. You will see it all, you will see it done better, and you will see it much worse.

Don’t:

  • Waste your phone battery. I always say home is where the Wifi is, and unfortunately the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ain’t yo home. With hundreds of thousands of people, service is God awful. It will drain your battery, rendering your phone useless for pics or even worse: calling that Uber home.
  • Lose your friends. No service= no friends. If you get lost, you get lost. This is another good reason to have a tailgate party located somewhere. I also made plans with my friends if anything happened at the track to have a safe place to meet up later.
  • Wear nice shoes. It’s disgusting, there are rocks and thick mud everywhere, and it’s miles and miles of walking to get to your car. I’m just saying, it’s easier to clean someone’s barf off of Crocs than your fresh white Nikes.

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    The Borg-Warner Trophy on it’s way to the Yard of Bricks on the back of a 2018 pace car

  • Miss the 500 festivities. The Snakepit definitely fulfills a certain type of person, but there are too many other amazing things happening at the track to spend the whole day at a concert having a heat stroke. We happened to walk in behind the parade of the Borg-Warner trophy going to the Yard of Bricks! That’s about as 500 as it gets. The red carpet is a lot of fun, the celebrities are equally excited, and it really does make you emotional to hear “Drivers, start your engines!”

The Snakepit is one of a kind and kind of a one time thing. Nothing about it is generally my style, but like anything, you rarely regret the times you said yes. If my high maintenance self can survive it, anyone can. Remember, GO BIG OR DON’T GO AT ALL!

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