The Laid-Back Weekends Of May

By Susan Phillips

A few years ago, George got the bright idea that we would travel to Indianapolis every weekend in May. Not only did they have the GP and qualifying, but there was an open test the very first weekend in May.


It was about six months after I got my current job where I travel about 80% of the time, so I reluctantly agreed. It was grueling to get off the road on Thursday night, unpack, wash my work clothes, and pack my race clothes. Then we would get up at 5 a.m. and make the four-and-a-half hour trek to Indianapolis, spend most of our days at the track and head home again, only to unpack, pack, and get ready to head out to another town for work. The Month of May is not only the month of racing, but in my business—the bakery business—May also includes Mother’s Day, Graduation, and weddings. Needless to say, by the end of the month, I was completely wiped out and wasn’t completely recovered until mid-June.

They never did the test weekend again. George and I discussed me not going to the IndyCar Grand Prix or Qualifying weekends and regroup at home. Then I realized that those are the two weekends that I enjoyed the most. I enjoy those weekends the most in terms of being laid-back and really exploring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the surrounding area.

The drivers are more laid-back and more accessible, the crowds are smaller, there is more time to enjoy myself and prepare for the high-energy weekend of the Indianapolis 500. Don’t get me wrong, I love race weekend, but we are always rushing to get somewhere, meet people, make sure all of our “party” has arrived in Indianapolis, and all the other plans that happen while preparing for a big weekend. Race weekend is packed with things to do and places to go.


Buddy Rice

The past weekend of the IndyCar Grand Prix, IMS had a lot of special fan-friendly activities. They had Free Garage Friday, where the garage area was open and free to the general public. The IMS Museum was free to the public on Saturday and Sunday with a paid admission to the IndyCar GP, so you could check out the new A.J. Foyt Exhibit and afterward, stroll through the main gift shop. After the race, there was the Track Invasion, where the fans could go out on the track after the race if you attended the IndyCar GP. The whole weekend is relaxed, the lines are short and the crowd is manageable. I enjoy exploring the track without the huge crowds of the Indy 500.

The Town of Speedway has turned into a really great place to spend time. Main Street has really grown, with lots of activities for everyone. The restaurants are just busy enough to have short wait times where you can enjoy your meal at leisure. One of our favorite spots is Dawson’s on Main. They have a very diverse menu and you are sure to find something for everyone. It is also a great place to spot a few drivers—seldom do we go there and not see a driver or Speedway royalty.

We went to the Foyt Wine Vault last weekend and had driven by it several times. I guess we were expecting an underground cave of wine, but it was actually an eatery that maybe we will get to one of these weekends in May. We did buy some Foyt wine and maybe we will crack it open near our fifth anniversary—I will be in Kentucky for the actual day. We have also enjoyed tours of the Dallara Factory, coffee at Mr. Linos, and eating at Sarah Fisher’s 1911 Grill. Everyone’s favorite breakfast place, Charlie Brown’s, is not usually packed. There’s a lot of racing memorabilia there and you can browse at your leisure if there’s not a long line to get in.

charlie browns

Let’s not forget kart racing at Speedway Indoor Karting. They have 2 courses—an oval and a road course. And I can speak first-hand about how awesome the care you get at MedCheck Urgent Care in Speedway, should you get slammed into the wall while karting like I did last year. There are a few other places we haven’t tried yet in Speedway, but look forward to trying in the upcoming weeks—I’m not planning on trying the MedCenter again, but it’s nice to know it is there.

On our last day of the weekend, we go to our favorite places—Mug’n’Bun and Long’s Do-nuts. There is usually a place to park and eat at Mug’n’Bun or you can go inside for your footlong hot dog and a frosty mug of their root beer.


I can’t say you won’t stand in line at Long’s, because I have never been there when there WASN’T a line. It is worth the wait—the donuts melt in your mouth. We also stop by IMS to go back to the gift shop and enjoy an almost-empty speedway and just soak up the ambiance while the large crowds are not there.

Qualifying weekend you will enjoy the same relaxed atmosphere. Getting a Bronze Badge would be worth the money if you plan on going to both weekends. You can get into the garage area and the drivers are definitely more relaxed (maybe not so much on Pole Day), but they are accessible and happy to sign autographs and snap photos.

I’m a big fan of the off the beaten path to see where it takes you—George, not so much–but I really enjoy the slower paced weekends in the Month of May. So if you haven’t gone to the IndyCar GP or Qualifying Weekend/Pole Day, make plans to go. You will not regret the laid-back atmosphere and it will whet your appetite and help you get your bearings (and find the snack bar that sells the traditional tenderloin) for the Indy 500.

7 Responses to “The Laid-Back Weekends Of May”

  1. I’m with you Susan. I love the weekends leading up to the 500. I actually saw you this past weekend by the Pagoda but was meeting up with Curt Cavin and didn’t have time to stop to say Hi. I will be there Sunday. Hope to see you and George. Glad you had a good weekend.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    Even more reasons to spend the whole month in Indianapolis, if I could of course.

  3. Ron Ford Says:

    Hi Susan. Just curious as to what your hobbies were and/or if you were interested in auto racing before you became Mrs. Oil Pressure?

    • Mrs. Oilpressure Says:

      I did not follow racing before meeting Mr. Oilpressure. I read a lot–now I listen to books while driving–generally at least 2 books a week. I enjoy doing gumpaste decorations for cakes–which I do part-time for a shop in Nashville. I’d love to paint again, but find it difficult with my schedule. Most of my hobbies are sedentary and are designed to recharge after my week of training in my stores. I spend all week on my feet talking. And traveling–don’t forget the traveling.

  4. This might possibly be my favorite post of the month thus far. Unfortunately, “real life” obligations (read: kids and activities, plus distance) means that I’m still probably a few years away from being able to enjoy more than just Race Weekend, but I’m now officially fired up to get to Indy in a little over a week. Here’s hoping I can track you guys down and say “hi” at least once.

  5. James T Suel Says:

    I really enjoyed your post Susan! George you have competition from your better half. Hope to bump into you guys this year. enjoying my 57th 500 and month of may this year!!

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