The Rebirth of the Snake Pit

Published On March 7, 2016 » 3165 Views» By Jeff Vrabel » Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500

We’re chronicling 100 days of Indy 500 history on #SpeedRead leading up to the historic 100th Running. With 83 days to go, Jeff Vrabel continues exploring the many tie-ins between the Indy 500 and pop culture.

More Vrabel: David Letterman, pit reporter | Indy 500 on Atari 2600On “Jeopardy!” | The ultimate “500” playlistMore 100 days blogs

For most of its history, the word “music” at the Indianapolis 500 has connoted a handful of genres and musicians, many of whom were Jim Nabors. Carb Day and Legends Day have become annual parties, and there are a handful of songs and bands who have focused on the charm and ferocity of the race, but they generally fall under the rock and country umbrellas. (Sadly, unlike “Daytona 500,” we do not have a quasi-theme song performed by a former member of the Wu-Tang Clan, although there’s still time, and yes we’re looking at you, GZA.)

All this makes the modern incarnation of the Snake Pit that much more fascinating. If you were around in the ’70s or ’80s, you may recall (or not) the original version of the Snake Pit — inside Turn 1 — as the place where things got what we official people writing official things for the official Speedway would call “unruly.” In fact, over the years things got unruly enough that organizers instituted a hiatus that lasted for much of the ‘90s and 2000s so everyone could kind of just chill out for a little bit.

The Snake Pit, 1980: Endless debauchery and sometimes an actual pit.

The Snake Pit, 1980: Endless debauchery and sometimes an actual pit.

But that changed preeeeeeety hard in 2012, when the Snake Pit reopened inside Turn 3 as something completely different: an electronic dance festival that starts just after the gates open and lasts for the duration of the race. It’s also, if we might be so bold, not bad at booking: This year’s headliner is Skrillex, one of the most famous faces in EDM and a guy who can claim eight Grammy Awards and more then 10 million singles. He’s the fourth-most viewed artist on YouTube, partly thanks to his reasonably popular work with Justin Bieber. Also on the bill: Martin Garrix, Zeds Dead and DJ Mustard.

Tickets are $20 and $85 and on sale at ims.com and indy500snakepit.com.

The Snake Pit, today: A raucous EDM music festival that also has its share of rowdiness, albeit with less mud.

The Snake Pit, today: A raucous EDM music festival that also has its share of rowdiness, albeit with less mud.

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About The Author

Jeff Vrabel

I’m an Indiana native and former resident of Chicago and Hilton Head Island who’s written for for such outlets as GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post and my hometown Indianapolis Monthly. I spent decades listening to the 500 on the radio and have run two Mini-Marathons around the IMS track, but only dropped a packet of energy beans on Turn 3 during one of them. And I live near Indianapolis with my family; my oldest son just stole bacon off your plate and the youngest was personally approved by Springsteen (long story). Find me at the cleverly named http://jeffvrabel.com or http://twitter.com/jeffvrabel.
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