The Snake Pit: Then and now

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SPEEDWAY, Ind.- If the Indy 500 is the “greatest spectacle in racing,” then the Snake Pit is the “greatest spectacle in raging.”

Fans gathered in what became known as the Snake Pit on race day as early as the 1920’s. It was a mild mannered party inside turn one, way back then.

IMS historian Donald Davidson said things didn’t really get rowdy until after Vietnam. “I think you can kinda link popular music a lot with it,” said Davidson.

Around that time a lot fans in the snake pit went from listening to groups like the Beach Boys, to The Rolling Stones. “Everybody wore their hair that way then, they all started wearing their long curly hair,” said Dean Lane, a longtime Snake Pit participant.

Mud wrestling was a regular tradition in the Snake Pit during in the 70’s and 80’s. Lane described it as part of the turn one hierarchy.

King of the snake pit would wrestle in the mud puddles to see who would end up being the king of the snake pit.

IMS officials made many attempts to tame the party. First, they tried moving the gathering from its original home inside turn one, to turn four, before the entire operation faded away in the mid 1990’s.

However, it’s been back the last several years inside turn three in a much more organized fashion.

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