Centennial Era Balloon Festival Kicks Starts Race Season

Don’t be alarmed if you see dozens of hot air balloons filling the skies of West Indianapolis this Saturday morning. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway kicks off its race season with a Centennial Era Balloon Festival Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 7:30 am. This Indianapolis sports event is FREE to all Indianapolis people. Head to Speedway, Indiana, in West Indianapolis, to be part of the grand opening of the 2010 race season at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway starts its 2010 race season the same way the facility’s rich history began one hundred years ago: with a balloon race. The Circle City sky will be filled with 33 balloons this Saturday, May 8, 2010 during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Centennial Era Balloon Festival. This annual Indianapolis event is presented by AT&T, who have made both admission and parking for the Centennial Era Balloon Festival FREE to all Indianapolis people. Though the infield of the Speedway is closed for the OneAmerica Festival Mini Marathon, fans can watch the balloons ascend from numerous points around the facility.

The “Founders Race” at the Centennial Era Balloon Festival will use the “Hare and Hound” Race format. In this format, a yellow AT&T Real Yellow Pages balloon with act as the “Hare” balloon for the race. It will be the first balloon to take flight, fifteen minutes ahead of the “Hound” balloons participating in the actual race. The AT&T “Hare” balloon will fly to an appropriate landing spot where a race official will place an “X” target on the ground.

Soon after, the “Hound” balloons, the rest of the field, will attempt to navigate to the Hare’s landing site and drop a small, two ounce bean bag as close to the center of the “X” as they can. The winner is the pilot who drops the bean bag closest to the center of the “X.”┬áDuring the race, balloons will reach an altitude of between 1,000 and 2,000 feet. But as pilots approach the “X” to make their drop, they will approach the ground as close as they can.

Hot-air ballooning depends exclusively on calm weather. Balloons can not fly in the rain or launch if ground level winds are greater than ten miles per hour. In the event of windy weather conditions, the participating balloons in the Centennial Era Balloon Festival will conduct a balloon “glow.” Glows cannot occur during rain.

A balloon “glow” offers a different type of interaction with hot-air balloons. Inflated balloons, that are tethered to the ground, use their burners to light the colorful balloons as one would use a candle in a paper lantern. Balloons remain on the ground throughout the glow, and the public is welcome to walk among the inflated balloons and talk to the pilots and crew.

Video: Balloon Glow at the Centennial Era Balloon Festival, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana


A glow contains many activities. An “all glow” has all the balloons lit at once. In a “twinkle glow,” balloons randomly glow to cast a candle effect. And a “wave glow” has the balloons glow in order, as in the wave at a sporting event.

The Centennial Era Balloon Festival begins with the “Founder Race” at 7:30 am on Saturday, May 8, 2010. At 5:00 pm gates open for an Oliver Winery tasting, “Matt the Balloon Guy” and other entertainment in the Pagoda Plaza. Live music featuring Indianapolis bands Gin Blossoms and Red Moon take the stage at 5:15 pm. Stick around to 8:00 pm for the Balloon “glow,” and then at 9:15 pm visitors can enjoy fireworks. If the Founders Race is postponed due to weather, it will take place at 7:30 am on the following day.

Between the early morning race and the evening festivities, treat yourself to a satisfying meal at any of these great Indianapolis restaurants. See out West Indianapolis restaurant listings for good ideas that are close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Or head to any of these refreshing Indianapolis bars for a drink.

Stay tuned to Indianapolis News, Event and Information on Fun City for all the latest on fun things to do in Indianapolis. We cover Indianapolis art to Indianapolis attractions and more. Get out in Indy and find some fun!

Centennial Era Balloon Festival
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4400 W 16th St
Indianapolis, IN 46222-2512

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