Motorsport Ticketing Software: Indy 500 Festival

motorsport ticketing software

The Indianapolis 500 is a classic American motorsport competition known the world over. But did you know there is a huge, month-long festival that occurs at the same time? Here's how the 500 Festival can be scaled down and made part of your racing event to boost attendance numbers as seen in your motorsport ticketing software.

History of The Indianapolis 500

Know as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indianapolis 500 has been held on Memorial Day weekend since 1912. So ingrained in American culture the event is well known even to those who are not avid followers of auto racing. Crowd sizes for the event are unlike any other car race, with last year’s Indianapolis 500 selling over 400,000 tickets.

The venue has not always accommodated those eye-popping numbers however. Originally it was a much smaller dirt track with limited seating. After WWI, the venue expanded and got its nickname - “the brickyard” - when the dirt was paved over with millions of bricks.

The Indy 500 has always had non-race related activities surrounding it (parades, music concerts, etc.) because the local community of Indianapolis takes so much pride in being host to the world. Beginning in the 1950s, and growing larger each year since then, the festival atmosphere leading up to the race has become a stand alone event in and of itself, now know as the 500 Festival.

The 500 Festival: A Entire Month Of Ancillary Events

As described on the official website, the mission of the 500 Festival is to "advocate and celebrate the spirit, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 through social, cultural and educational events and programs [to] enhance the quality of life for all citizens of our communities." And even though it is a non-profit entity, separate from the for-profit car race, the 500 festival makes its value proposition very clear:

It’s Good Business - The 500 Festival is a self-funded, not-for-profit organization deriving its revenue streams from ticket sales, event registrations, sponsorship and corporate memberships. Hundreds of local, regional and national companies participate in a variety of ways. And it works.

Racetrack operators would do well taking a page from the 500 Festival's playbook. All of the ancillary events that occur under the 500 Festivals umbrella actually spur ticket sales to the car race - a very smart ticket sales strategy. The wide appeal of all the ancillary events attracts those who may not be otherwise interested in auto racing.

With start dates as far back as a month before the actual race, the two major ancillary events that have the largest attendance are the marathon and the parade (video above). In addition to the marathon and the parade, the scope of the 500 Festival includes ancillary events like Rev Your Engines Concert, Breakfast at the Brickyard and the very popular Snake Pit Ball.

Of special note is the difference between the "Rev Your Engines" concert and the "Snake Pit Ball" concert - the former being a free event, the latter a high-margin ticketed event.

Rev Your Engines is the kick-off event for the month-long festival and is open to the public to enjoy. The concert not only serves as fun, free entertainment, it is also a sales tool for all the other upcoming ancillary events.

New last year was the addition of food trucks, a wildly popular way to enjoy on-site snacks. Food trucks are a revenue generator all on their own, as mentioned in Food Trucks At Events - A Match Made In Ticket Sales Heaven. Rather than incur the costs of concessions, you can contract the local food trucks in your area and ask that they set-up shop in front of your venue.

In sharp contrast to the free concert, the Snake Pit Ball is a ticketed concert with classic rockers Foreigner performing live. Snake Pit is held on day before the race and is a formal black tie affair with an equally black tie ticket price:

The Snakepit Ball has become a race-eve tradition.  Known as the place to see the stars, the black-tie event includes red carpet arrivals by celebrities in town for race weekend and special VIP guests.  Dinner and dancing will round out the celebration. Tickets are $275 each.

Snake Pit Ball has sold-out all of the three figure price tag tickets. In fact the vast majority of all the 500 Festival events sold out well in advance.

If you are interested in duplicating the way in which the 500 Festival spurs ticket sales to the main event, it is simply a matter of scaling the method down to meet your race. Instead of a month-long festival, consider a smaller one beginning on Thursday or Friday. The city in which your race occurs will most likely welcome your expansion plans and possibly underwrite some of the costs.

Better still, there may already be a non-motorsports festival set for a time near your race event calendar date. In theory, you can strike a B2B deal moving the two events to the same week-end in order to generate a cross-pollination of tickets sales. Race fans come early for the festival and festival goers stay late for the race.

ThunderTix Motorsport Ticketing Software

Of course merging your race with an established festival will require a new, efficient choice in online ticketing software. Multi-day events that encompass multiple locations (fairgrounds + race track) combined with the requisite coordination with vendors and food trucks are simply too much for a walk-up ticket booth alone.

The ThunderTix Motorsport Ticketing Software can scale up or down to meet your needs including future expansion plans for ancillary events just like the 500 Festival. ThunderTix is a sports ticketing software that offers many features for sports venues. Selling tickets in advance is much easier than you think and creates new revenue streams you may not have. Lucrative upsells like souvenirs, t-shirts, and VIP packages are all easy to create and sell using our technology.

And if you are thinking of having a suite of ancillary events leading up to your big race, know that ThunderTix supports the tools you need like support for barcode ticket scanners and multi-day passes. All that plus we do not charge you per-ticket fees.

Ready to start increasing your motorsport event profit margins? Be sure to take a look at our other features and sign up for a free trial today!