For the first time, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway offered "glamorous camping" or "glamping," on the track's infield during the Indy 500. Across a small lake from the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course's eight hole, IMS settled "Glamptown," a village of 70 10-foot x 15-foot canvas tents. The tents were available with the choice of a comfortable queen bed, double beds, or two to four military-style cots.
Glamptown was also home to a fairground-style food trailer and nice, clean portable bathroom and shower facilities. Overheard in the men's room: "This is a lot nicer than the bathroom in my house." It was a really nice bathroom.
There was a huge outdoor TV that showed car movies like "Fast Five," and game four of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the hometown Indiana Pacers and the almost universally reviled Miami Heat. Around the TV sat a number of comfortable outdoor sofas, hammocks and propane heaters. If there was one aspect of Glamptown that was just about perfect, the common TV area was it. There was room for everyone to get comfortable, and the atmosphere was not unlike that of an upscale bar with an outdoor patio.
While there were a few older folks among the residents of Glamptown, a big percentage of the residents were shirtless, tribal-tatted bros in their 20s and 30s. Those guys were there to pound beers, drink flavored whiskey from the bottle, play games and wrestle each other. Some of them were accompanied by women.
Many of these glampers displayed superhuman stamina, staying up into the early morning talking loudly and blaring music on portable PA systems they'd dragged along, then rising as early as 5:30 a.m to continue the party. Playing cornhole, getting hammered and rocking out to loud music are, for many, a big part of the Indy 500 experience. But waking up before the sun on consecutive days, after just a couple hours passed-out in a steamy tent packed with dudes to cue up "We're not gonna take it!" is dedication to craft that brings to mind Hoosier Larry Bird's legendary hustle. If our culture valued partying like we value athletic achievement, there'd be statues of these guys.
Even if we were a little tired out from the all-night noise, walking a quiet, crowdless IMS after hours isn't an experience we're likely to forget. And, having walked miles to the track from off-site parking as a fan, and even after having been shuttled to the track with a police escort by a sponsor as a member of the media, I have to say that waking up at the track is by far the best way to start your race day. That alone makes it worth considering glamping for the 2015 Indy 500.