Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

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Young Race Fans Are The Big Winners at This Year’s Indy 500!

by Kimberly Harms

April 01, 2011

The green flag means go and it will also signify plenty of savings for families this year at the Indy 500. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is celebrating 100 years of racing with free admission for kids 12 and under when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder. The deal is good for every day of on-track activity from Opening Day, Saturday, May 14 through Race Day, Sunday, May 29 (www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com).

More FREE fun takes place with the Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day at Monument Circle in Downtown Indianapolis. The state’s largest outdoor FREE festival for children offers activities and entertainment for all ages. Some of the biggies include Kiddy Cart Racing in which the little tykes take off in pint-sized race cars and tricycles on an oval race course. There is also a homemade pop can race for those who would prefer to create and cruise. Little girls will no doubt get a kick out of making their own princess sashes in the arts and crafts area. And everyone should enjoy face painting, clowns, entertainment, food and the chance to win one of more than 10,000 prizes. It all begins at 12 noon and wraps up at 4 p.m. on May 15th.

If your little Speed Racer or Penelope Pitstop wants to get his/her engine started with a fun run, have him/her lace up to burn tennis shoe rubber in the Chase 500 Festival Rookie Run that also takes place May 15. It is open to all kids 3 to 12 years old. It's a non-competitive run that is a great way to encourage your little ones to stay physically fit. All participants will receive a goodie bag, a runners bib with the number 1, and a finisher's medal – just like the Mini-Marathon participants. Once the maximum number of 2,500 applicants has been reached the registration will close. So, you might want to get a jump start by registering now at http://www.500festival.com/events/KidsDay.asp .

American Family Insurance 500 Festival Community Day is another way for families to share their race enthusiasm. It takes place on May 25th from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 per person; while kids 6 and under are free. Fans of all ages love taking a lap in the family car around the track to see what it looks like from the race car drivers perspective. Visitors are also invited to tour the IndyCar transport trailers, visit Pit Lane, check out the vintage cars on display, get autographs from Pro Series drivers and past champions. You can even take a Victory Circle photo just like you’re the winner in a car with a trophy, a wreath and a glass of milk! When that is done, you still have time to check out the suites and the official timing & scoring area in the pagoda, see the Media Pit Stop Competition, enjoy live music, Q & A sessions and visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. It is all part of the one admission price.

More than 300,000 spectators will kick-off race weekend by cheering for their favorite drivers and princesses while watching the larger-than-life floats light up the city in the IPL 500 Festival parade. Participants from past years have included SpongeBob SquarePants, Pablo & Tyrone from "The Backyardigans," Dorothy the Dinosaur and Wags the Dog from "The Wiggles," Powerpuff Girls and Fred and Wilma Flintstone. And it’s the only parade that features all of the competitors before a huge sporting event. The Parade is nationally telecast on ESPN2 and is locally televised on WISH-TV Channel 8, a CBS affiliate. To watch in person, tickets are $14.50-$32.

Children will be able to meet some of the cartoon characters that will appear in the parade before anyone else gets to see them parade day. They will be at the 500 Festival Character breakfast at the Hilton downtown. The price is $27 per person and includes breakfast and one reserved bleacher ticket for the parade.

Race over to the Indianapolis Zoo for the greatest spectacle in tortoise racing. The Zoopolis 500 presented by the American Dairy Association features tortoises racing to a finish line, lured by bowls of fresh fruit. It’s held the Wednesday before the Indianapolis 500 in the Dean's Arena at the Zoo.

Hard core race fans may choose to rev up for all the fun by joining the first-ever Kids Club at IMS. Annual dues are $25 per child and include a welcome message from a driver, a kid-style credential that serves as a membership card with lanyard, mini autograph pen, Indianapolis Motor Speedway lunch bag with school supplies, temporary tattoos and Mattel Hot Wheels car! They’ll also receive a t-shirt, one-time 10% discount on Indianapolis Motor Speedway merchandise (redeemable online or in-store), a birthday and holiday card, an e-mail newsletter, $10 off IMS Junior Garage Credential (kids ages 9 to 12 only), Special Kids Club only events throughout the year and special offers from several Indianapolis community partners. Visit www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/KidsClub for more information or to join the fastest kids’ club in motorsports. The first 200 children registered online for the Kids Club will be able to participate in a special driver autograph session.

Now that Mom and Dad's pit crew is ready, it's time for Little Ladies and Gentlemen to start their engines!