Boles: Snake Pit Succeeding in Creating New Race Fans

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(photo courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway) (photo courtesy Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

It is race weekend in Indiana. The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 is Sunday and the Snake Pit, an area once known for its rowdiness and Woodstock-like atmosphere, continues its resurgence with a focus on nonstop music and partying. The new iteration of the event, which features some of the top Electronic Dance Music performers, has been embraced by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a way to attract fans and turn them into regular Indy 500 ticket buyers.

"The demographic is in the mid-20s, so it is significantly younger than the general ticket holder at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said IMS President Doug Boles. "The last couple of years, we've sold out the Snake Pit or announced a sellout of the Snake Pit a few days before the Indy 500 because were close enough to what capacity was and we were worried that we'd get too many people showing up at the gates and then we'd have to turn people away."

Boles says, since the Snake Pit returned to IMS in its current form, the event has served as the first 500 experience for many attendees and turning those people into regular Indy 500 fans has been a challenge, but it's starting to pay off. He says the plan for this year's show is to continue selling tickets through race morning because the space has been expanded and could fit nearly 30,000 concert goers. 

This year's Snake Pit concert will feature Grammy Award-winner Skrillex in the headline spot for the first time since 2016.

For the race itself, Boles says attendance is expected to be very similar to last year's race which was the largest in recent memory, with the exception of the 100th running in 2016 which was considered a sellout. 

"We'll see how the weather is. It could be even better than last year just depending on how our walk-up traffic is that day, but the most important thing out of that to remember is it is important to be early and make sure you're through the gates by 10:00 or 10:30. We're really encouraging people to do that," said Boles. "One of the challenges that we have and one of the biggest responsibilities that we have is to make sure that our customers are safe and as we bring people into the gates, we will continue to be diligent in the way that we are checking bags and coolers and other items."

Boles says they are monitoring the weather situation on race day. As of Thursday evening, our partners at WTHR-TV are predicting a 70-percent chance of scattered storms on Sunday.

"There's always a chance there could be a cancellation and there isn't a plan yet because we don't know what the cancellation will be like. You could have a full cancellation. You could have part of the race get in and have to figure out how to deal with it. Obviously, if it's raining, we're not going to run the Indianapolis 500 and then we'll have to decide what the next steps are."

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