'It’s chaos every year': Fans race for pole position of the North 40 parking lot

Posted at 5:30 AM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2022-05-25 19:31:32-04

SPEEDWAY — While the Indianapolis 500 holds the title of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the lesser-known, North 40 Dash, easily qualifies as the greatest spectacle in parking.

It was a race weekend tradition for eager fans to park in the front yards lining 30th Street in the days leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Like the drop of the green flag, when officials opened the gate to the North 40 parking lot, the drivers were off!

Each vying to win the pole position of the North 40 parking lot, ensuring the earliest entry to the track when it opened race day morning.

Racing from one gate to another puzzled some neighbors.

“I’ve lived over there for 18 years, and I wonder every year if they’re only going to this gate down here?”

An IMS employee, decked out in a Yellow Shirt, talked about the mayhem with WRTV reporter Sy Jenkins.

“When the track opens at six o’clock, come race day morning, it’s the first one down through the tunnel, and the first one into turn three, the first one into turn four, they try for turn one on the inside, who knows. All we know is that it’s chaos every year.”

Chaotic would be one word to describe the dash in 1986.

A 1959 Ford with seven years of previous appearances in the North 40 Dash, rolled over during the sprint.

Though it didn’t get on the pole, it did make the field.

The man who maneuvered his way on the pole did so in an oil-burning, Chevy truck.

“I got a bad clutch, and it burns so much oil, I tell them to fill the oil and check the gas when I go in. A hundred dollars now, I want you to know that I paid a hundred dollars for this baby here, and I’m sitting on the pole.”

Whether you take the checkered flag at the yard of bricks or in the North 40 parking lot, a win is always worth bragging about.

North 40 Dash drivers get the black flag

Following the chaos that ensued ahead of the 1986 Indianapolis 500, Speedway officials decidedly dashed any hope of a parking lot race in 1987.

The bearer of bad news - a newly erected sign which was also the subject of reporter Sy Jenkins’ report on May 22, 1987.

The sign, erected by Speedway officials, indicated that all race fans would be required to pay to get into the parking lot, one vehicle at a time. This effectively ended the North 40 Dash which had become the unofficial first race of the 500 weekend for about 20 years.

One North 40 Dash driver was unfazed by the new signage.

“Every year it’s the same thing, they say, ‘we’re not going to let you in,’ but things in this community become so hectic, and go so out of hand, they have to let us in.”

Dash spectators were also displeased with the change. One even yelling at a police officer through a chain-link fence.

“I see this bull change, worse and worse every damn year!”

Jenkins reported that there was brief chatter about potential assault on the fence around the North 40.