By Joe Laing
When the talk turns to speedway tailgating, “Indy” is sure to be part of the discussion. Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is not only the largest spectator sport venue in the world, it’s also one of the best-known places in America for racing fans to meet and party.
Growing up in Indianapolis, I was surrounded by Indy car racing mystique. When IMS added the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race in 1994, a whole new group of fans flocked to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This July, that event, now known as the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard, offers the ultimate tailgating experience for NASCAR fans. If you haven’t started planning, here’s what you’ll need to know.
Where to Park for Brickyard 400 Tailgating
If you like having options for where to tailgate at the race track, you’re in luck. The people who run this Speedway are pros at giving fans the best possible experience. You can set up your tailgate party on race day in several of the parking lots (10’ x 20’ parking space) or you can bring the RV and settle in for camping and tailgating the entire weekend. Either way, you need to make a reservation, so don’t wait too long to choose.
They’ve supplied detailed parking and camping maps to help you find a place that suits your tailgating style. FYI … your parking reservation is for race day only, but your reservation for camping runs from Thursday morning to midnight on race day.
The Right RV for Brickyard 400 Tailgating
Since hardcore NASCAR fans know that nothing beats RV camping and tailgating at the track, let’s talk about what kind of RV will work best for your Brickyard 400 tailgating.
First of all, you’ll want to bring a self-contained recreational vehicle for your Brickyard 400 weekend, as your reservations will be for “dry camping” unless you choose one of the lots where electrical hookups are offered and you’ve purchased an additional Electrical Pass.
In some lots, drinking water can be obtained and pumping services are offered, but not all, so be sure you know what’s available before you come. Bring your own generator if you plan on using air conditioning in the hot July sun.
Your RV and tow vehicle, tailgating gear and shelter will all need to fit within your 20’ x 40’ reserved camping space, unless you choose the lot where 20’ x 50’ spaces are offered.
RV Travel Requirements in Indiana
You also might need to know the rules and regulations for RVs traveling through Indiana, so I’ve made things easy by posting them here:
- Size Limitations:Height: 13’6″; Width: 8’6″; Trailer Length: 40′; Motorhome Length: 45′; Combined Length: 60′. Triple towing is allowed if the total maximum length does not exceed 65′.
- Required Equipment: Safety chain, breakaway switch, flares or reflective signs, brakes for gross weight vehicles of 3,000 pounds or more.
- Riding of passengers in fifth wheels, travel trailers and pickup camper is allowed.
- Overnight parking is permitted in state rest areas.
- Max tow speed 65 mph
Tips for the Ultimate Tailgating Experience
Be sure to read the Speedway’s rules for tailgating to keep your Brickyard 400 tailgating experience positive. Basically:
- If you’re coming for the day, make sure you’ve reserved a parking spot in one of the six lots that allow tailgating.
- Use only small, portable grills and don’t dump your coals or ashes at the speedway. No ground fires allowed.
- Keep shelters no more than 10’ x 10’ and keep them affixed to your vehicle, inside your own parking spot. Make sure all shelters are taken down by race time if that’s in your parking area specs.
- Keep things friendly by not blocking traffic and pedestrian lanes while tailgating.
What to Cook at Your Brickyard 400 Tailgate Party
And now to the good stuff: what to serve your tailgate party guests. Don’t sweat this question, just think about how you would plan for an outdoor meal at home and then modify your menu for parking lot or RV cooking.
Like to grill? Bring meats, seafood or veggies marinated ahead of time for quick prep. Prefer to keep things cool while tailgating? Bring sliced meats, veggies and chilled fillings like hummus and serve with wraps or tortillas. Like things spicy? Cook carnitas or carne asada and add beans, rice, and homemade salsa to your taco or burrito bar.
Don’t forget about mini sliders—you can start with just about any kind of meat and add slaw, pickles, peppers or cheese to win big with your guests. Pair them with your favorite sides that you make ahead to save time. And we haven’t even talked about the dips, nachos, wings and other appetizers that will keep your guests happy before you serve the main event. Add in delectable desserts and drinks and you’re going to take home the trophy.
These are only a few of the thousands of tailgating treats avid speedway chefs serve fellow race fans. Think portable, think easy prep and think simple to store and serve and you’ve got the basics of parking lot cuisine.
It’s the racing fan’s ultimate experience—tailgating at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Use these tips to plan your own excursion to the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard.
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way. He is also actively involved in numerous campground associations, including RVIA’s Go RV’ing committee, as well as travel industry associations.