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April 17, 2014  |   By Cathy Kightlinger

Rally Around The Campfire: 'Glamping' At IMS

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles was undeterred by his chilly camp site April 15 at the Speedway.

Bundled in an IMS hat and matching sweatshirt, Boles had two reasons for spending the night outside. The first was because he was playing host to a string of journalists who had come to see the Speedway’s first glamour camping, or “glamping,” offering. The second was more personal: Although Boles has been coming to the track since 1977, he had not spent the night there.

“Even in my days owning an IndyCar team and all of my time here at IMS, I have never slept at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Boles. “I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like. We’re sitting here by this beautiful lake. There are geese. There are all kinds of wildlife out here. I think it’s going to be a fantastic experience … for our fans in May.”

Making S'Mores at IMSGlamping offers a variety of luxurious amenities in an aesthetically-pleasing decor, Boles and the reporters learned.  A real bed with down comforter and night stands, flowers and decorative lighting are arranged inside high-end tents with a floor. A fire pit and contemporary furniture sits outside in a community space. There’s a movie screen, and private bathrooms, too.

The unseasonably low temperatures sent even some of the heartiest would-be glampers home. Even Patricia Jensen, of the  luxury tent company Contentment Camping, which set up the tents, got a chill.

“This is a first for us,” she said.

But by the time Indianapolis 500 weekend arrives, so should perfect glamping weather.

That in mind, glamping packages, which include tickets to the May 25 race, Coors Light Carb Day and other weekend events, are available at www.indy500snakepit.com. For $1,100, two can spend four nights and five days (May 22 to May 26) in a large, weatherproof tent with windows and a tarp floor. They’ll have a Queen-sized bed with bedding, a table and access to the “Glamping Lounge.” There will be private bathrooms and shower areas, too, and a padlock for the tent. All of it will be set up along the lake in full view of the Speedway’s iconic pagoda.

The idea for the new Indianapolis 500 package came from IMS event marketing manager Jesika Gunter, who witnessed the trend at the California music festival Coachella.

“I’ve camped (at the track) in the driver’s lot … and it’s just a cool experience being here at night,” said Gunter. “And I thought it would be a cool experience for the race fan, and it’s a luxurious camping experience.”