IMS Snake Pit ‘riff-raff’ share memories of Indy 500 parties

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — During the 101st running of the Indy 500, thousands will party in the Snake Pit — a celebration that used to be pretty different.

Reflecting on memories of the old Snake Pit days. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield parties started in the 1920s. That area is now known as the Snake Pit, where people drink and dance to live music.

But it’s not the way one group remembers it. “The Snake Pit is now what they call turn 3,” Jeff Cox said.

“That’s not the Snake Pit,” Troy Warren said, “That’s a cheap imitation.”

The former group is made up of Kenny Couch, Kenny Cole, Warren, Ludke, Baker and Cox. Each has their own nickname, including Tater, Nut and the governor of the Snake Pit.

“I mean, we had a thing. It was a special thing to us down there,” Cox said.

For nearly 30 years, when tires hit the track, they made their way inside. “We didn’t do anything else the rest of the year,” Cox said. “When May came, I mean it was all we could do to get there.”

It was a place where this group would share food, drinks and a little fun.  “People put a dollar, or five dollar bill on a string, on a fishing pole, throw it out there,” Cox said. “You’d be walking by and you’d see that money, and all of a sudden you reached down and pick it up and they’d jerk it back.”

(WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

Attitudes changed 20 years ago, giving the speedway a new look, and earning this group a new nickname. “This was the beginning of the riff-raff social club,” Cox said.

IMS altered and re-located the Snake Pit. “Used to be you’d go in the morning, you could find the grill that you left there last night with the hamburger still burning on them,” Cox said.

But those days are now only found in photo albums and ink on their backs. The “riff-raff” tattoos may be fading, but if the party was still in the original spot, each said they would be there.

“We’d be over there in a rocking chair,” Warren said. “Wearing our support stocking and sipping on Geritol-spiked cocktail.”

The Snake Pit will start Sunday morning, with several artists performing, including Zedd. If you’re interested in going, click here.

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV