**The following account is a recap of the parties surrounding the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.  The perspective was written by both Jade and Erica, but listed under Jade’s experiences.

May in Indy feels like Christmas.  The anticipation and excitement that builds before you walk under the track and into the infield, the vibe, the people, the noise, the smells and roar of the engines make the track the most magical place on earth.  Well, the most magical place in Indianapolis. This is the first time I was able to cover it as a reporter. I felt like it was my job to get in with the people. Really submerge myself in the culture and my producers gave me the nudge to dig in and experience the party.  So I did. I hung out with the glampers, ate some yummy BBQ at turn 3, danced in truck beds, rocked out at the concerts, and went wild at the snake pit.

Unlike many NASCAR tracks, which regularly open their infields to overnight campers, camping out inside IMS is a rarity; some drivers and racing team owners stay in fancy motorhomes on the infield, but fans who want to camp must do so in huge lots outside the track.  Starting last year, the speedway opened up to a limited number of fans who signed up for “glamping” — glamorous camping, tents in a secure area with amenities. Yes, Indy’s legendary “snake pit,” home to an infield party scene that rivals the Kentucky Derby orMardi Gras, has gone upscale.  For prices ranging from $650 to $1,100, with occupancy of up to four people, fans could stay at the track from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning. And if that sounds like a lot, you should check into the prices hotels charge on race weekends.  The glamping area has a lounge-style common area with fancy fire pits and upscale couches.

Carb Day is a day-long party where race car practice breaks out, and fans were out in full force at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday. Fast cars, great weather and fun entertainment were the order of the day.  All 33 cars were on the track Friday. Will Power had the top speed at 229.02 mph, followed by pole sitter Scott Dixon at 228.58 mph and Tony Kanaan at 228.49 mph.  Meanwhile, across the infield, all of the fans looked like there were having fun.  The turn three infield was rocking all afternoon. For many fans, it’s a tradition as important as the race itself. Friends, family and even businesses make it a point to connect on Carb Day.

As I walked to the speedway from my parked car, I couldn’t help but to notice the thousands of people surrounding me. Everywhere I looked it was just outright chaos – cars lining the streets, kids running around the tailgate fields, drunken adults playing games. Remember this was all happening early, and many of th festivities began much earlier than that.

When I arrived at the speedway, I immediately had to go to work.  We had red carpet to cover before the walk to the infield at Turn 3…aka The Snake Pit. A-Trak was there finishing up his set, while Steve Aoki waited on deck behind the booth. Thousands of people were there watching these EDM artists perform. In Indiana, this is a very rare occasion.  I’m not sure it is about the music.  I think it is more about the experience.  And I will be back. I will be  crashing the infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and entering the Snake Pit year after year.  I’m sold.  It might not be the Snake Pit of my parents but it ranks as a top party in Indy.

After a long race day of watching the Indianapolis 500, the breezy venue of the Regions Roof Top was a perfect place to relax and unwind in downtown Indy. Catered by local purveyor of southern comfort food, Georgia Reese’s, The Big Finish after party was as delicious as it was dance-worthy. Sponsored by Crush Entertainment, local DJ’s Indiana Jones, Gabby Love, and Lockstar seamlessly meshed modern hits with classic hip hop and Motown while racing suit-clad promotional models served up cocktails. Ladies from fellow sponsor, Grand Racing and Casino, donned Moulin Rouge worthy attire as aerialists navigated rings and silks suspended from an industrial setting.The DJ’s spun, fire pits sizzled, and we all sang, danced, and reveled our way into the wee hours of the morning.

If you missed the segment on IN the Loop about all of the parties we went to during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 check out the video below.  And don’t forget to watch us, Jade and Erica, every Sunday night at 11:30 on WISH-TV 8.  Keeping you IN the Loop of everything that is Indianapolis.

Written by Erica Stikeleather

Erica Stikeleather was born and raised in Indiana. Her studies brought her to Ohio where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media from Cedarville University. She then interned in Washington, D.C. as a communications assistant with the civic education non-profit, Presidential Classroom, and also at Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, right here in Indianapolis. Erica has spent the last 3 years in Los Angeles, working in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera. While in LA, she walked in several fashion shows during LA Fashion week, for Macy’s on the RMS Queen Mary, and also in the Powertec Model & Fitness Competition for Elisabetta Rogiani at the W Hotel, Hollywood. She is a SAG-AFTRA actress with a passion for independent filmmaking. Some of her independent film work, Freerunner and Proxy, can be found on Netflix. She has acted in music videos with Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Chris Brown as well as in numerous television commercials. She can also be seen in the film, Gangster Squad, with Sean Penn. Erica’s studies have brought her back to her home state where she is currently enrolled at IUPUI as she prepares for veterinary school. She plans to combine her experience in filmmaking with veterinary medicine to create interactive documentaries about veterinary medicine around the world. Erica is thrilled to join IN The Loop and to show the world what the great city of Indianapolis has to offer. She loves fall in Indiana, farmer’s markets in the summer, horse-back riding, and seeing as many sporting events, live music, and museums as possible. If you see her out and about, come say hello, and let her know what you love about Indianapolis!

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