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Checkered Flag Checklist: Key Dates to Remember

May is less than a week away and the magic of race month is almost here! My goal this year is to help families that may think month of May activities aren’t for them (or their kids) get connected with at least one family-friendly event this season.

Follow along for a new Checkered Flag Checklist to go live every Wednesday through the end of May sharing information to help families feel excited and prepared to experience Indiana’s greatest tradition.


What do we mean when we say “month of may” activities? Is it really a full month of celebration–isn’t the Indy 500 just one day? Yes and yes. For the last 107 years, the state of Indiana has been home to the greatest spectacle of racing. While the Indianapolis 500 is run each year on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, there are lots more activities, events, and celebrations that take place throughout the month. Many of these activities are family-friendly and get even the littlest race fans involved in the magic.

Key Dates for Families at IMS

There are some events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that are more family-friendly than others. Check the below dates against your calendar and see what works for you and your crew to make it out to the track:

  • 5/12: GMR Grand Prix Practice Day

  • 5/13: GMR Grand Prix

  • 5/16 - 5/19: Indy 500 Practice

  • 5/20 - 5/21: Indy 500 Qualifying Weekend

  • 5/22: Indy 500 Practice

Practice days: If you want to see fast cars on the track, but don’t necessarily care about watching a full race, practice days are for you. They offer the least crowded scene, parking is free, and tickets are only general admission (meaning no reserved seating– you can sit wherever you want in the grandstands). I recommend spending some time in Pagoda Plaza taking in the sights, then making your way to the Tower Terrace grandstand to watch some fast cars cross start/finish.

  • PRACTICE DAYS have my vote for the best way to bring toddlers/young kids to IMS. This can be done with a stroller as a single parent outing.

GMR Grand Prix: If a race is what you want to see, the GMR Grand Prix is unofficially dubbed as the “race for families.” You will still get to see all the top IndyCar series drivers race, but on a much smaller scale in terms of crowd size compared to the Indianapolis 500. Rather than laps around an oval track, drivers race through a road course track made up of twists and turns throughout IMS.

Who needs a ticket?

Children 15 years and younger are free to enter with a general admission ticket to all practice days (both GMR Grand Prix AND Indy 500 practice). When I take my 3 kids solo to practice days, I only need ONE ticket.

The GMR Grand Prix has both general admission tickets on the infield grass mounds and reserved seats for the grandstands. All kids 15 and under are free with a general admission ticket to the GMR Grand Prix. Everyone who wants a reserved seat (a seat in the grandstands) for the GMR Grand Prix needs a ticket–including kids.

Keep in mind if you buy a GA ticket to the GMR Grand Prix–you will not have a seat in the grandstands. Your home base for the race will be in the in-field, which is an open grassy area where you can set up your own blankets, chairs, etc to watch the race.

Tickets to all events listed can be purchased at

Stay tuned for more family-friendly month of May content including….

  • Step by step guide to attending a practice day at IMS

  • IMS packing list with kids

  • Other ways to celebrate this tradition with your family

  • ….and more!


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