From pop-up tents to luxury domes, IMS camping scene draws thousands

(WISH Photo)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Glamping is glamorous camping, and each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they tend to step up the glamping sites, but many people choose just a classic tent and sleeping bag to rest their heads as close to the race as possible.

“Just being able to roll out of bed and the first thing you see when you walk out of bed is the pagoda. It’s the most amazing thing,” David Flagler said.

Flagler is a glamper from Pennsylvania. He’s one of many who pass up plumbing and other modern-day amenities for a tent near the track.

“We got a hotel and just didn’t like the experience, so we keep coming camping,” Dave Merriman said.

He drove overnight from Buffalo, New York, with his family. He chooses to set up a simple site for the weekend.

In the Indianapolis Motor Speedway camping community, you’ll see everything from a basic pop-up tent across the street to a 20-foot dome on the infield.

“Basically, we say it’s a mobile hotel room,” Gabe Kendale, Dome City team leader, said.

Camping doesn’t have to mean roughing it at the Indy 500.

“They have heat and A/C in them, so they can sustain 120 mph worth of winds,” Kendale said.

The domes costs $3,000 to $4,000 for the weekend. There are only about a half dozen available. There are about 100 more modest glamping sites with a starting price tag of $1,000 for the weekend. That does include an all-access pass to the weekend’s activities and the Indy 500.

The glamping and camping scene also draws people to IMS who don’t even care who crosses the bricks first.

“It’s bigger than the race really. I mean it’s four or five days long and the race is only a few hours, so this is what everyone comes for,” Kendale said.

Still for those die-hard race fans, it’s a badge of honor to call this place home, even if it’s for only a few nights each year.

“I like what we do. This is perfect for us,” Merriman said.

“It’s awesome. It’s great. What else do you need? A bed and a tent,” Flagler said.

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