April 23, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
Excitement Everywhere For Fans At 96th Indianapolis 500
The 96th Indianapolis 500 offers 12 days of exciting on-track action featuring the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, and two special days of fan-friendly activities during the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Opening Day is Saturday, May 12. Pole Day is Saturday, May 19, followed by Bump Day, Sunday, May 20. Miller Lite Carb Day is Friday, May 25, and the 96th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon (ET) Sunday, May 27.
Public gates for practice May 12-18 will open at 10 a.m., an hour later than recent years. Public gates on Race Day will open at 5:33 a.m. Sunday, May 27, paying tribute to the traditional 33 cars in the starting lineup.
Tickets for all days of activity are available at www.imstix.com or by calling (800) 822-INDY.
Fans can enjoy plenty of on-track action featuring the new 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car and competition among engine manufacturers Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus on Opening Day. All of the top stars of the IZOD IndyCar Series will be on track, including three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, two-time “500” winner Dario Franchitti and IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Will Power.
The Celebration of Automobiles also will take place on Opening Day, Saturday, May 12 at IMS, with nearly 200 beautiful, rare vehicles competing for awards – including the Road & Track Trophy -- in the Vintage and Historic Car Show. An Emerging Tech Showcase has been integrated into the Celebration of Automobiles this year. A new addition is an Automobile Festival featuring hundreds of current and late model vehicles on display in manufacturer-and model-specific groups inside the infield of the IMS oval.
Drama and excitement will build during daily practice Sunday, May 13 through Thursday, May 17. Teams and drivers will aim for top speed on Fast Friday, May 18, the last day to hone setups before qualifications.
One of the most dramatic days in worldwide motorsports will take place Saturday, May 19 on Pole Day. The first 24 spots in the starting field will be determined in the exciting two-session format, with nine drivers making a run for the pole in the thrilling Fast Nine Shootout from 4:30-6 p.m.
Qualifications will conclude Sunday, May 20 with the pressure and drama of Bump Day, as drivers will try to find the speed to earn one of the final nine spots in the starting field for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Activity resumes Wednesday, May 23 with 500 Festival Community Day, featuring an autograph session with the Indianapolis 500 starting field and other fan-friendly activities.
Cars are back on track Thursday, May 24 for practice and qualifying for the Firestone Freedom 100, the marquee event for Firestone Indy Lights.
A fantastic mix of on-track action and off-track fun awaits fans on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 25. The final Indianapolis 500 practice, Firestone Freedom 100 race and Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge will provide competitive thrills, while legendary rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will close the day by headlining the Miller Lite Carb Day concert.
Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske Presented by Shell V-Power on Saturday, May 26 will honor Indianapolis 500 legends while building anticipation for Race Day.
Vintage cars will turn laps on the IMS oval and the Indianapolis 500 starting field will sign autographs before the Public Drivers’ Meeting. Legendary Indianapolis 500 team owner Roger Penske will participate in a question-and-answer session with fans shortly before numerous Indianapolis 500 veterans will sign autographs.
The largest Indianapolis 500 Memorabilia Show in the world also will take place all day on Legends Day Honoring Roger Penske Presented by Shell V-Power.
Tradition and pageantry again will take center stage during pre-race ceremonies on Race Day, Sunday, May 27, before the field of 33 starters gets the green flag at noon.
One of the best parties of the year also will take place on Race Day in the Snake Pit, located inside Turn 3 in the massive IMS infield. Music starts at 8 a.m., with headlining performances by world-renowned electro DJ and producer Benny Benassi and Chicago-based electro group Krewella.
The Snake Pit will be open on Race Day from 7 a.m. until the checkered flag ending the race. Any fan with a Race Day ticket and free Snake Pit wristband will be admitted.