Month of May Traditions

Month of May Traditions

The Month of May in Indianapolis is like no other. Leading up to the Indianapolis 500, the city comes alive with rich history, traditions, and race fans from all over the world. The award-winning 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 Education Program, presented by Indiana University Health aims to teach students across Indiana about the rich traditions and culture of the Month of May.  

This free program immerses 4th grade students across the state of Indiana in the world of the Indianapolis 500 and the 500 Festival. The 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 Education Program, presented by Indiana University Health, is a combination of in-class curriculum and an optional Study Trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or a Mobile Study Trip brought to your school.  

Check out all of the traditions that make the Indy 500 the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing!” 

Pre-race Traditions: 

  • Take in the magic of the IPL 500 Festival parade the day before the race. Experience larger-than-life floats, giant helium balloons, the 33 drives competing in the Indianapolis 500, and so much more!
  • Hear the tunes of award-winning marching bands, including the Purdue All-American Marching Band, as they march a lap around the track. 
  • Celebrate with the collegiate ambassadors representing the 500 Festival Princess Program as they make a lap in the 33 500 Festival cars! The 500 Festival Princess Program celebrates civic-minded, academically driven women who engage in community service and outreach programs. 
  • Check out local and national celebrities that come to witness race day in Indianapolis! 
  • Show your patriotic pride with the singing of the National Anthem followed by a military flyover. 
  • Honor the Memorial Day holiday with the playing of the taps, honoring our fallen military soldiers.  
  • Show your Hoosier pride with the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” and the release of thousands of balloons, a tradition that began in 1947.  
  • Revel in the excitement as the famous words, “Ladies and gentleman, start your engines!” are proudly pronounced.  

Post-race Traditions: 

  • Feel the energy as the checkered flag is waved in the famous figure 8 motion.  
  • Celebrate as the Indy 500 winner takes part in the coveted Victory Lane traditions! 
  • The BorgWarner Wreath is placed over the winner’s head and the BorgWarner Trophy is presented.  
  • The winner receives greeting from the Marlyne Sexton 500 Festival Queen Scholar.
  • The winner drinks milk, a tradition since 1938! 
  • The victor takes a final lap around the track in a 500 Festival car, thanking fans.
  • The winner caps off the victory lap at the finish line and kneels to kiss the Yard of Bricks, a tradition since 1996.