The month of May in Speedway is all about tradition.
Whether we’re talking about Jim Nabors signing “Back Home Again in Indiana,” the 11 rows of three cars starting the race or the winner drinking milk in Victory Lane, the Indianapolis 500 is dripping with tradition.
Another tradition recognizes the drivers starting at the back of the race.
On Friday, the Indianapolis Press Club will host the 40th annual Last Row Party. The event takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Brickyard Crossing Pavilion and gives fans an unusual opportunity to engage with current and former drivers.
One of the Indianapolis 500’s best peripheral events, fans can eat, drink and laugh as drivers are roasted at the Brickyard Crossing, 4400 W. 16th Street, adjacent to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Turn 2.
This year, the event features drivers Bryan Clauson, of Noblesville; up-and-comer Simona de Silvstro; and popular former Formula One racer Jean Alesi. Also on hand will be IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard and other open-wheel VIPs.
Even though this is a longstanding tradition, there are some new twists this year. For the first time, Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus will address the gathering and fielding questions from the audience.
Indianapolis 500 historian Donald Davidson will offer insights and ask trivia questions and TV commentator Bob Jenkins will be on hand to take part in the driver roast. The event will be emceed by WFBQ's Laura Steele.
Special guest this year will be Bob Harkey, a former driver who was roasted at the first Last Row Party, back in 1973. He started on the Indy 500’s last row in 1971, 1973 and 1974.
The event benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which provides journalism scholarships for students at Indiana colleges and universities.
For more information, check out: www.lastrowparty2012.eventbrite.com.