Indy 500 live 2016: Heavy crowds ahead – Indianapolis Star

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The gates open for the 100th running of the Indy 500.
Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar

11:34 a.m. update

Florence Henderson said she’s enjoying the social aspect of being grand marshal for this year’s race.

A native of Dale, Ind., known for portraying Carol Brady on 1960s sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” Henderson sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America” or “America the Beautiful” 23 times at the Indy 500 from 1991 to 2015.

“I’m isolated until I sing,” Henderson said of a role she won’t have today. “This year, I get to be out here and talk to everyone. It’s great.”

The Indianapolis Children’s Choir will sing “God Bless America.” Indianapolis resident and “The Voice” champion Josh Kaufman will sing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” accompanied by the children’s choir.

As grand marshal, Henderson will greet drivers and dignitaries on the pre-race stage, deliver the “drivers to your cars” message over the public-address system and ride in a parade car at the front of the 33 competing drivers before the race begins.

Henderson said she appreciated the reception at Saturday’s 500 Festival Parade.

“Just to hear the crowd at the parade was absolutely fantastic,” she said while walking a celebrity red carpet this morning. “I’ve done that parade forever, but the crowd was huge.”

A high-profile switch affected the Indianapolis 500 today, when singer-actress Lady Gaga planned to sub for country star Keith Urban in Mario Andretti’s two-seat car in pre-race festivities.

A back injury forced Urban to cancel his plans to visit Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Andretti, the 1969 Indy 500 champion, confirmed Gaga’s participation while walking a celebrity red carpet this morning.

“I have yet to meet her, personally,” Andretti said. “She decided to do it, and all of a sudden here we are.”

At 10:13 a.m., Gaga was seen crossing the footbridge between the track’s media center and Pagoda. She wore a gray romper before suiting up for the promotion billed as the “Honda Fastest Seat in Sports.” At the 2010 Indy 500, actor Mark Wahlberg was the first to ride with Andretti.

Andretti and Gaga will follow four parade cars and lead the official pace car on three laps before the race.

“She’s going to distract me quite a bit, actually,” Andretti said with a laugh. “I hope I can just look ahead while I’m driving.”

And an update on the wait to get into the IMS at this record-setting Indy 500:

Although some people reported waiting in long lines to get into IMS, some gates had little or no wait for most of the morning.

By 11 a.m., lines to get into IMS became short or nonexistent.

“Wide open!” a ticket taker at gate 7 yelled to no one in particular as pedestrians shuffled by outside the track. “No wait!”

Bob Luhrs, 60, of Carmel heeded the call and walked right in.

“It’s easy,” he said.

The quick entrance surprised Sarah Claymon of Indianapolis, who said she’d been to the Indianapolis 500 several times before.

“I would’ve thought security would’ve been a lot longer,” she said.

10:39 a.m. update

Sure, the lines to get into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are unbelievably long. But at least you’ll be entertained?

IMS authorities also report that the Crossover Gate 5 will  close at 11 a.m. If your seats are on the south end, they suggest you use Tunnel 6. Spectators on the north end should use Tunnel 7.

Express lanes are also available for people without coolers, purses or backpacks — gates 1, 1B 3, 6, & 9.

As the IMS fills up with race fans for what is expected to be the biggest Indy 500 ever, be prepared for heavy crowds.

IndyStar engagement producer Allison Carter takes a peek at the view from the track:

9:51 a.m. update

Pop superstar Lady Gaga’s role at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is confirmed, writes IndyStar reporter Dave Lindquist. Gaga will accompany Mario Andretti in a two-seat race car today.

Gaga replaces country music star Keith Urban, who dropped out because of a back injury. Andretti and Gaga will follow four parade cars and lead the official pace car on three laps before the race.

In traffic news: While there is no fast route to get to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 21st Street appears to be an especially slow way to get there.

Twitter user @ematurne posted that “traffic is backed up on 21st Street almost to Raceway Road” – which is more than five miles from the track.

Backups are the norm, though, on every street leading to IMS. About three hours before the Indianapolis 500 was set to begin, social media users were mostly expressing frustration.

“I feel like every traffic report is pointless now,” Twitter user @julesia18 posted. “All routes in are backed up.”

Not everyone is lamenting the long wait times, though. Some see it as a positive sign for Indianapolis’ beloved race.

“The Indy500 hasn’t seen traffic like this for years,” Twitter user @Gooder_English posted. “It’s good to see again.”

One Indy 500 veteran, Twitter user @MikeBudzik, offered a suggestion for those frustrated with the backups.

“We used to get out & play Frisbee with other race fans stuck in traffic,” he said.

Authorities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are also giving fans a heads-up today on gates with the shortest wait times:

9:07 a.m. update

Crowds are pouring into the Snake Pit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning, which is expected to attract double the crowd size from 2014.

Officials attribute the sellout of 30,000 tickets to the magnitude of the 100th running.

Can’t believe how busy it already is in the #indy500snakepit. B.O.A.T. on now.

A video posted by Amy Bartner (@amybartner) on May 29, 2016 at 6:04am PDT

Headliner DJ Skrillex is backed up with an impressive electronic lineup: Martin GarrixZeds Dead, DJ Mustard and B.O.A.T.

Police officers from departments in Lebanon and Newcastle told IndyStar reporter Amy Bartner they are looking for overdoses in the typical “party crowd.”

Meanwhile, the crowd of race fans trying to get into the IMS is growing thicker. According to police radio traffic, gates 1, 6 and 9 are busiest, and visitors are encouraged to head to other entrances.

8:43 a.m. update

There’s good news and bad news for anyone trying to get to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning.

The traffic is horrible – but, so far, it’s no worse than any other race day.

As of 8:30 a.m., there were no major accidents reported near the IMS, Speedway Police Lt. Trent Theobald said.

“Traffic’s not moving real fast, but that’s to be expected just like any morning when people are driving to the track,” Theobald said. “It’s a typical race day morning.”

Some race fans sought to beat the traffic. The first people in line camped out on Saturday night to avoid a rush when the gates opened at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Robert Walters slept on a Speedway woman’s porch after traveling 27 hours from Jacksonville, Florida. He rode a Greyhound bus to Indianapolis to attend the 100th running.

“I got up at 4:30 a.m. and walked down here because I knew there was going to be a long line,” Walters said. “It amazed me that it looks like it did back in the 70s.”

Walters said last year was the greatest race he’s witnessed in 40 years. Multiple crashes shook up the competition during the 99th running.

The excitement that year brought race fan Matthew Jacobs back for more this year.

Jacobs, who traveled from Van Wert, Ohio, was one of the first fans in line at Gate 1. He left home at about 2 a.m. Sunday to attend the historic race.

“It’s all exciting,” Jacobs said before the ceremonial cannon fired at 6 a.m. Hundreds of fans cheered as they passed through the gate while security kept a close watch on coolers, bags and other pieces of race gear.

8:02 a.m. update

Some late-breaking celebrity news:

IndyStar’s Dave Lindquist reports that while the ‘Bad Romance’ singer hasn’t been listed among personalities expected to walk the red carpet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, she was spotted at a race party Saturday at Regions Tower Rooftop Terrace in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, a late drop-out from country music star Keith Urban:

7:31 a.m. update

Things are looking bright once you get to the track.

And here’s a quick tip from IMPD police:

7:22 a.m. update

According to, an accident was reported at Lynhurst Drive North before 16th Street around 7:06 a.m. Traffic is stop and go, and delays are expected.​ Traffic seems to be flowing fairly smooth closer to the track.

7:07 a.m. update

Traffic issues are starting to pop around the track. Be prepared from long waits. Some areas are being asked to seek alternate routes.

6:53 a.m. update

Speedway police reported a pretty quiet night. Only two arrests made Saturday. Both were related to public intoxication.

6:45 a.m. update

The crowd is filing in but doesn’t look as massive as you might expect.

6:30 a.m. update

Indy 500 fans are pumped for the 100th running.

Previously reported

Good morning, Indianapolis!

This is it. Right now. Today. Pound that coffee, people, and pack that cooler because the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 has arrived.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Racing, yes. Celebrities, yes. Good times, yes. It’s only 6 a.m., yes. Where’s the coffee? Did someone say coffee? Where’s the Starbucks?

The race is a sellout. Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected. It’s still 6 a.m. at the moment, though, so we all need is more c-o-f-f-e-e … COFFEE!

We’re going to keep you abreast of the latest happenings from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and we’re going to have fun doing it. Races in the front, Snake Pit in the back.

The current temperature is 69 degrees with 86 percent humidity. Temperature highs are slated for a balmy 83 degrees with a 60 percent chance precipitation on tap. Sunday will be warm with times of sun and clouds. A shower or thunderstorm is expected late this afternoon. But that won’t stop the party. We can’t stop. We won’t stop.

Traffic is moving smoothly around the 4-6-5 with no major problems to report near the speedway.

Festivities begin with the Parade of Bands and the Borg-Warner Trophy March to the Bricks, both beginning at 8 a.m.

Grab your sun tan lotion, your glow sticks and your favorite craft beer. The first fan has breached the gates.

Aaannnd he’s on it.

IndyStar reporters Cara Anthony, Amy Bartner, Allison Carter, James Briggs, Dave Lindquist and Joe Tamborello contributed to this story.

Indy 500 live 2016: Heavy crowds ahead – Indianapolis Star

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