With well over a century of history to its credit, there are plenty of traditions associated with the Indianapolis 500. The winner drinking milk is possibly the best-known of the bunch, but did you know about the North 40 Dash? Unless you were an Indy local in the 1980s, the answer is probably no. And from what we see in the above video, we suspect it’s something race officials and authorities weren’t keen to brag about.
Indianapolis-based WRTV shared the retro video chronicling the unofficial banger race that took place for several years. In short, the North 40 Dash was a mad free-for-all in the morning hours before the big race to – wait for it – get the best parking spot. And when we say mad free-for-all, that’s no joke. The video above shows people literally running for safety while trying to open the gate, helpless to control the fleet of craptastic trucks and vans vying for free parking.
It seems contact between vehicles wasn’t just encouraged, but required. This particular North 40 melee from 1986 saw a truck flipped on its side right at the entrance, and a multi-car pileup apparently happened later on. A WRTV report mentions no significant injuries resulting from these crashes, nor is there mention of injuries from the riots runs held in previous years. Considering the condition of the vehicles involved, the perceived lack of any safety equipment, and the prevalence of alcohol in the video, we’re surprised it even took place at all.
We aren’t entirely sure when this tradition began. The report alternates between at least 12 years up to 20, but we know it ended in 1987. It seems a truck flipping on its side in ’86 was the straw too far, as a $15 parking fee was implemented the following year with vehicles proceeding one at a time. And for those who wanted to go for broke anyway, police were on hand to end their race day early.
Life was certainly different in the 1980s. But wherever you are for the 2022 Indianapolis 500, stay safe and leave the racing to the pros.