Make Your Indianapolis 500 Reservations Now!

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Consider this a public service announcement. If you haven’t made your hotel reservations for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, you may want to consider doing so – quickly.

After the fiasco we endured last year with our usual hotel changing hands, we were going to change hotels anyway. For years, we had been staying at the Sleep Inn right at the intersection of Rockville Road and I-465 throughout all of the month of May weekends. It was not the most luxurious of accommodations; but it was very clean and affordable, had a nice clientele, served a free hot breakfast every morning and most importantly – it was very close and convenient to the track. Even on race morning, we could leave the hotel at 6:00, and be parked and inside the track by 6:30.

But somewhere in between the 2014 and 2015 race, the Sleep Inn became a Motel 6. It’s amazing how quickly a property can go down after a change in ownership. The free breakfast was gone, along with free shampoo. I felt fortunate to find the single bar of soap we were forced to share each day. As it turned out, those were the least of our problems last year.

We used some of Susan’s points and stayed at a much nicer hotel for the Grand Prix weekend. But qualifying weekend and race weekend, we stayed at what used to be our usual location. That was our mistake and our misfortune.

When we first checked in on Fast Friday, we knew something was wrong. First of all, the lobby was hot and stuffy – same with the hallways. The new owners apparently outlawed running any air-conditioning in common areas. Both weekends there, our sink had no drain stopper. That can be a problem for someone like me who wears contacts – not that seeing anything in our room was possible anyway, with half of the lightbulbs missing. Both weekends we reported that lightbulbs needed replacing, but based on the non-interested vibes I got from the sloth at the front counter – I knew we’d never see them. We didn’t.

I’m almost certain we were sleeping on someone else’s dirty sheets the night of the Burger Bash. Finding a miniature hand-held vibrator on the floor under the bed did nothing to dispel that feeling. When we left for Legends Day, we stripped the bed and told them we wanted clean sheets. They complied.

But the nightmare didn’t stop there. I may be wrong, but I’d be willing to bet that there were tricks being turned in the hotel and even in the parking lot. Scantily clad (and not very attractive) young women were just hanging around the front desk all the time. They all seemed to be very chummy with the staff. On more than one occasion over the two weekends, we found undergarments out in the parking lot in the early morning as we were headed to the track. When we would come in at night, there were lots of people mysteriously sitting in cars or milling around the parking lot. Whatever they were doing, their intentions did not seem to be honorable.

Then there was the Saturday rainout of qualifying, when we returned to the hotel in the early afternoon. As soon as we got off of the elevator that opened to the un-air conditioned hallway, we heard screaming. At first, I thought it was someone being threatened or tortured. As we got closer, we realized we were passing by a room where a couple was simply showing their undying love for one another. Unfortunately, we could still hear it from our room through the walls – and it went on for quite some time. At first I didn’t know whether to be annoyed or envious, but it got old very quickly.

You get the point. Needless to say, we decided then that we would never stay there again. I can only imagine how much worse it has gotten since last May. But I did not plan on scouting out a new place for at least another month. We normally don’t make our May reservations until mid-to-late February. Besides, I thought we may stay where we stayed for the Grand Prix weekend. It was nice and almost as convenient and we could use Susan’s points again.

Last Thursday night, our friend Paul Dalbey from More Front Wing sent me a text asking if I had made our reservations. When I told him we hadn’t, he informed me that there seems to be a much higher demand and all of his usual spots were already booked up. I immediately got online to find that our Grand Prix hotel was sold out. Then I tried the Best Western across the interstate from the infamous Motel 6. We had stayed there before and liked it. It was going for $300 a night with a three night minimum. Seriously? The three night minimum is not an issue, because we usually stay three nights on race weekend anyway. But $900 for the weekend was a big issue, for us anyway.

We had stayed at the Crown Plaza by the airport before and found it to be very reasonable in the past. That was not the case this year, as it is also going for $300 a night for three nights.

Prior to the split, my first wife and I used to stay in Bloomington because demand was too high in Marion County. Years ago, Susan and I used to stay in Columbus. It was much cheaper and did not make you stay three nights. But it’s also fifty-five miles from IMS. I gave that up long ago because I got tired of driving all weekend. I also didn’t like waking up at 3:00 am to leave at 4:00 in order to be inside the track by 8:00. I cringed at the thought of going back.

Susan was out of town that night. I called her and told her of the dilemma. After about three hours with both of us searching, we finally found a reasonably priced hotel about six miles due west of the Motel 6 brothel. It’s on the same road and we will pass our former cat-house on the way to the track each day. The hotel is new and presumably clean. I am withholding the name because it’s almost full and one of my brothers still needs to make his reservations there.

We may go elsewhere for the Grand Prix and Qualifying weekends, or we may stay there all three weekends. But at least we know we have a place for Race weekend.

Thanks to Paul Dalbey for the heads-up. Had he not notified me in early January, we may have been shut out by mid-February.

So take my advice – demand for hotel rooms is apparently very high for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The hotel industry in Indianapolis has decided this is the perfect opportunity to try and gouge the public. It’s resembling the pre-split days of CART, it’s so high. If you were like me and planning to wait several more weeks before making reservations, get online now. Even the dreaded Motel 6 is already sold out. There are still some bargains out there, but you’d better hurry. You don’t want to get shut out of this year’s race.

George Phillips

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21 Responses to “Make Your Indianapolis 500 Reservations Now!”

  1. I was able to secure two rooms at the Comfort Inn South for Friday night and Saturday night. We like to get back to Nashville on Sunday night, so this works well for us. If there is a rainout I think we won’t have any trouble getting our rooms back.

    Thanks Paul and Grorge for the heads up.

  2. H.B. Donnelly Says:

    Come on down to Bloomington; we can carpool up at 4AM on raceday!

    Just kidding, of course. Though, those of you who would do the Bloomington thing should be aware that State Road 37 is being transformed into an interstate and is a minefield of lane closures and shifts. Luckily, the students at Indiana University (and their/their parents’ cars) clear out the week before the GP, but you still have to add 30 minutes to your budgeted travel time.

  3. And thanks to you, George, for relaying the message via Twitter and Facebook late last week. As a result, I got on looking for a hotel within hours after getting back from our family’s vacation on Saturday, and my group (up to 4 this year…so I suppose you can also blame me for some of the increase in demand) has reservations at a decent looking place up on the NW side that didn’t even cost an arm and a leg. At least searching for hotels was a nice way to divert myself from the fact that I’m back to reality after a week and a half off of work, and also a great way to feel like the racing season and the 500 itself isn’t that far off.

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Guess I’d better get on the accelerator pedal and get this done. Thanks for the heads up, George.

    And at least your experience at Motel 6 last year was “unforgettable”…

  5. Thanks for the heads up. I just went online and booked. Paid through the nose, but it’s a decent place and close by.

  6. Sounds bad for checkbook, but bodes well for a memorable 100th running of the 500.

    Motel 6. We’ll leave a (red) light on for you…

  7. I’ll pass this along since I won’t be going this year. If you’re NOT needing to be at the track dawn to dusk, (or you’re of a more FRUGAL bent, consider staying in Anderson. There are several chain hotels at exit 26 on I-69, most of which are UNDER $100/night with no minimum. Yes, it’s 26 miles up I-69 from I 465 (on the north east side,) but you can easily drive to the IUPUI lot down at MIchigan and (I believe) California, and catch the bus to and from the track there. The drive from Anderson, even in race morning traffic, takes an hour.

    The other selling point of staying in Anderson is that you’re about a mile and a half away from Hoosier Park Racino where you can gamble to your heart’s content on video poker, slots, video craps, video blackjack, video three card poker, and almost any table game that can be run electronically. They also feature trotters and pacers if you’re so inclined.

    The bus itself drops you off about a block south of the main (16th St.) gate, perfect if you’re sitting in either of the south end VIstas, or anywhere south of the start finish line on the main straightaway.

    Yes, it costs a little bit of money, but the saved aggravation of dealing with traffic, particularly AFTER the race is well worth it. Take along a portable radio and you can listen to all the post race activity and wrap up on 1070 the fan.

  8. Bruce Waine Says:

    George – Sounds like you have a secure future and are starting another career …. As an author ……. Writing a paperback expose…… ?

  9. Bruce Waine Says:

    We made our reservation about a month ago at the national chain motel (northwest of the track just off 465) that we have stayed with for about the past seven years.

    Rates have not increased.

    However, when making the reservations, we noted that their computer was programmed to accept only reservations requesting a stay of longer than four nights.

    All this also due evidently to the old “Supply & Demand” business ethics brought about by the trickledown effect of the forthcoming 100th race INDY event.

    Perhaps this may indicate to be prepared to bring some extra ‘jingle’ in thy pocket……….. :o)

    ANOTHER WARNING TO ADD TO THE LIST OF THOSE PLANNING TO ATTEND THE 2016 INDY 500 AND NOT YET AWARE:

    To wit the track has naturally joined the “Dollar Parade” also:

    The 2016 Bronze Badge now costs $135.00.

    BE FOREWARNED….. It costs $135.00 until March 31, 2016.

    April Fool’s Day and thereafter, a bronze badge purchase will cost only $150.00 each………

    …………. Fan friendly………………. :o)

    Or perhaps in preparation for the $ reduction in attendance in 2017 and thereafter…………….
    ***********************************************************************************

    The Following copied from the track’s web site:

    2016 Bronze Badge Information:

    Bronze Badges are available for purchase now.

    The price of the 2016 Bronze Badge is $135 and the price will increase starting April 1, to $150.

    Once you have purchased the badge the electronic waiver will be emailed to the email address provided starting January 1.

    Once all waivers are signed for the badges they will be mailed out starting April 15.

    Must be 18 years or older to participate in the Bronze Badge program.

    There are no refunds for the Bronze Badge once it is purchased.
    Purchase Now

    Please note that in order to receive the badge in the mail you must complete and a sign the electronic waiver.

  10. This does have the feel of the days of old, and George, maybe you discovered the true location of the old “Snake Pit.”
    If I were planning to go, I would stay with my brother or son. I will be watching the international feed from somewhere in Alberta.

  11. Well this has been a wakeup call. It is colder than a well digger’s backside here in Wisconsin so I had not given any thought yet to reservations. I usually stay at the Holiday Inn in Lebanon but just learned that they are sold out. I could stay in the hometown of Curt Cavin (Frankfort) but the only two motels there may arguably be worst than the infamous Motel 6 of George’s experience. Perhaps my option now is watching the race on my phone in the parking lot of the Mug ‘n’ Bun in Speedway.

    For those of you considering going to the Road America race at Elkart Lake, you will find the same situation there and in the nearby town of Plymouth. Fond Du Lac is an option. As they say on late night TV, CALL NOW!

    • I meant to say “former” hometown of Curt Cavin; where he grew up.

      • Frankfort is also my hometown Ron (proud home of the Hot Dogs) and while one specific motel is as you describe, there are 2 motels that are fairly new on the west side of town that aren’t bad. A La Quinta Inn and a Super 8. My brother stayed in one and he’s fairly picky but said it was okay. Frankfort is not as convenient as Lebanon and if folks are going that far away from Indy they may want to check out the many options in Lafayette.

        • I also meant to say my “former” hometown.

        • How interesting. My mom and relatives on her side were born in Frankfort. (Georges and Campbells) Most are buried in the Buntin cemetary south of town. My uncles either farmed and/or worked on the railroad or in the meatpacking plant. Their farming was done in what I refer to as the Frankfort-Rossville-Sedalia triangle. I spent a lot of my early years on those farms. Our reunions are often held in the TPA park. I will look at the new motels you suggested or Lafayette. Thanks for the suggestions. Where do you live now?

          • Lafayette is fairly convenient, right up 65. Or 52 if you wanna drive “old school.” I live in Austin TX now.

  12. I think I am going to sleep in my own bed in Louisville and leave really early.

    I have done it every year now for 5 years.I have driven from Denver twice in my life so 100 miles to the Indy 500 is a cakewalk.

    I went alone last year. I would not recommend that. I sat next to this really grumpy old guy who owned my seat and felt the need to tell me his selling price vs. what I paid on the street. His single conversation with me included how he had been to every Indy 500 since 1950 something. He read the paper for the first half of the race and then disappeared from lap 100 to 150 getting something to eat with his wife who was sitting behind me. She was nice. She must have felt obligated to compensate for her husband. You could cut the attitude with a knife. It was a low point and hopefully an anomaly. I hope this year is better.

  13. Carl Carson Says:

    George,

    Try looking for a Hotel in Avon, IN. Its a nice “safe” location and about 15 mins west of IMS on US 36 (Rockville RD).

    There several restaurant and watering hole establishments near by as well.

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