Written and photographed by Don Idio
There’s often a bit of uncertainty when attending a new festival or event. The anticipation leading up to my very first Indy 500 Snake Pit had me wondering: will this really turn out to be the energy-fueled morning rager I’m expecting?
I’m happy to report that my experience was just what I had hoped for. Indy 500 Snake Pit was a sold out event comprised of 30,000 dance music maniacs foot stomping to the likes of B.O.A.T., DJ Mustard, Zeds Dead, Skrillex, and Martin Garrix…at 7:30 in the morning! Music began blasting bright and early, and I can now say with absolute certainty that it was the best possible way to start my day.
Indy 500 Snake Pit Quick Facts:
- The Snake Pit event is actually a culmination of several days of music performances leading up to race day, most of which are geared towards country music fans.
- The term “Snake Pit” was coined in the 1920s, and at the time referred to a smaller, relatively mild party that took place inside turn one of the speedway on race day.
- The rowdiness of the celebration became increasingly uncontrollable as years passed, resulting in a suspension of Snake Pit festivities for several years. In 2012, event promoter React Presents marketed the official Snake Pit event as we know it today, centered around popular music performances.
Camping: RV and Tent Camping were available to those attending the 4-day race event, but not solely for the Snake Pit event.
Crowd type: Mostly college-aged party goers, but this all ages event allowed families and children to partake in the festivities as well
Music genre: Big room / Dubstep / Trap
How To Get There
Coming from Chicago, I thought I would make good time leaving around 3:30 am…though I didn’t account for was the one-hour time difference (brain fart). The drive looked like it would take the expected three hours, until I reached the 38th street exit traffic jam. The following three miles to the Indianapolis motor speedway took about an hour, but I’d like to commend police officers on site for doing such a great job directing traffic amidst the chaos of cars flooding in. For those who didn’t pre pay for parking, many homeowners in the surrounding area were selling parking spaces on their lawns ranging from $30 to $50.
Where To Stay
Nearby hotels include the Holiday Inn Express & Suites West Indianapolis Airport, Wingate by Wyndham Airport – Rockville Road, and Candlewood Suites Indianapolis City Centre. We found some more great recommendations for places to stay and more things to do in the surrounding area here.
One perk of attending Snake Pit is the freedom to bring as much food and drink as you’d like. It’s a great way to save money while having your favorite snacks and a cooler of drinks readily available. The downside of this was the amount trash littering the ground. Many events are beginning to focus on green initiatives to keep the fun environmentally friendly; hopefully future Snake Pits will adopt such initiatives and stress the importance of proper trash disposal to attendees.
The Snake Pit atmosphere was very similar to that of many other festivals I’ve attended, largely due to impressive stage design (triangle shaped screens were reminiscent of a similar design at Spring Awakening) The streamer cannons, fireworks, and flamethrowers that many festival patrons have come to expect were in no short supply. Paired with CO2 cannons fired in time with soul-shaking drops, and hoses sprayed across the crowd to offer some relief from the 80-degree heat, production elements kept everyone’s senses on thrillingly high alert.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
With this small yet mighty lineup of five, it’s hard to imagine that any would qualify as an artist you haven’t heard of. That said, the performance highlight of my day had to be Zeds Dead. Conor Daly, an Indy racer, even greeted and took pictures with the crowd at the start of their set. Audiences were able to catch the opening ceremony and the start of the race on the big screen, right before Skrillex came on in a full race track suit matching helmet. Martin Garrix wrapped up the day, debuting a new song during his set characterized by a melodic video game-like chime sound that is sure to make more appearances this summer.
Things To Do
The ability to bring your own food lent a sort of tailgate feel to the festivities. People hung out around their cars drinking, grilling, and having a good time. Though I attended with mostly music in mind this year, I plan to purchase a seated race day ticket in order to get a better view of the race itself (and be able to take a break from all that bass).
Why Go VIP
There was no shade in sight for GA ticket holders, but as far as ways to keep cool, VIP offered little more in the shade department. The main value of VIP was access to an elevated viewing platform, which extended to almost 30 feet from the stage gate. The remaining 30 feet was a great area for VIP patrons to enjoy the view on ground level, even closer to the stage. Other perks included plentiful room to dance and nicer bathrooms, but it’s hard to say whether VIP was worth double the price ($65 for GA, $130 for VIP).
What Makes This Festival Different?
Attending an event at the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something I’d recommend to anyone, and the fact that Snake Pit is so closely associated with the race certainly gives the event a unique quality unlike your standard music festival. An interesting dynamic is created when a simultaneously occuring sporting event is nearly or equally as important as such sought after musical talent; mostly, it just gives people more to be excited about!
Insider Tips and Final Comments
To wrap up, I’d like to remind anyone who will be making a trip to Indy 500 Snake Pit in the future:
- Indianapolis in May will most likely be hot, so be prepared.
- On that note, remember that the ability to bring your own food and drinks means you can come prepared to stay hydrated.
- The view from inside the racetrack is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Whether you’re coming for the music or the race, it’s worth experiencing at least once.
View the full photo gallery HERE!