The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is continuing a collaborative community effort, 500 Forward, to celebrate the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil and the Month of May.

Now in its second year, 500 Forward harnesses the collective efforts of 13 partner organizations and countless individuals alongside IMS to offer programming and events that celebrate the Month of May and support a broad array of community initiatives.

"This year's 500 Forward programs are a vivid, vibrant example of the powerful impact meaningful and lasting community partnerships can have," Hulman Motorsports Senior Vice President of Events Allison Melangton said. "The wonderful organizations and individuals driving this effort will bring new levels of excitement to the Month of May, heighten civic pride across Central Indiana and beyond and connect more Hoosiers to the Indy 500 and Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

Over the course of its 108-year history, the Indianapolis 500 and the Month of May have become much more than the world's greatest race -- especially to its host neighborhood, city, region, and state. From the Mini-Marathon and Rev Indy; to the INDYCAR Grand Prix and IPL 500 Festival Parade; to Miller Lite Carb Day, Legends Day presented by Firestone and the Snake Pit presented by Coors Light - May in Indy has become a month-long cultural and civic celebration that truly offers something for everyone.

In 2016, as the community geared up for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, IMS and the 500 Festival joined forces with organizations, corporations and individuals across the city and state to further accelerate investment and activity around the race and to deepen community engagement throughout the Month of May. The excitement and energy created by this Host Committee effort was undoubtedly a major contributor to the event's unprecedented success - the first sellout in Indy 500 history and recognition as national Sports Event of the Year by SportsBusiness Daily.

In 2017, IMS leadership launched 500 Forward to build on this momentum for the 101st Running and beyond.

In 2018, two of the most prominent initiatives within 500 Forward are Welcome Race Fans and #500FashionFridays, which blend the exciting worlds of fashion and art with the excitement of racing at IMS during the Month of May.

In the Welcome Race Fans program, area artists Lisa Sears, Artur Silva, Greg Potter, Dianna Porter and Derrick Carter each created a piece on various mediums that incorporates the term "Welcome Race Fans." These pieces will be displayed around greater Indianapolis, including the Indianapolis Artsgarden, the Athenaeum and Indy Reads Books buildings in the popular Mass Ave dining and entertainment area, and in the Irvington neighborhood.

Another art tradition, Indy Wings, returns this year as part of the Welcome Race Fans program. Indianapolis graphic artist Aaron Scamihorn created this year's "wings" - an ode to the famed IMS "Wing and Wheel" logo - that will be placed on buildings and on business fronts throughout Indianapolis and Central Indiana, providing a perfect photo opportunity for fans, pedestrians and business customers. Locations include Mass Ave and Broad Ripple in Indianapolis, Main Street in Speedway, and in the communities of Noblesville and Westfield.

Another new part of Welcome Race Fans that will engage the local arts community will be the painting of an IndyGo bus with an IMS racing motif by local artist Amy Rheinhardt on the grounds of IMS during two weekends of track activity during May, the INDYCAR Grand Prix on May 11-12 and Indianapolis 500 qualifying on May 19-20. The bus will be used as a cooling station for fans on Race Weekend May 25-27 and then be placed into service on IndyGo routes after May.

#500FashionFridays were a popular hit last year, gaining traction with fans and fashionistas around Indianapolis. The program, a partnership with Pattern, Downtown Indy Inc. and Susan Decker Media, encourages everyone to dress in their best Indy 500 fashion during the four Fridays of May, showing their pride and excitement for racing at IMS during the Month of May. Fans are encouraged to post photos of their outfits on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #500FashionFridays.

This year, focusing on all types of fans, photographer Polina Osherov of Pattern and her team organized a photo shoot to create a look book helping fans find inspiration for #500FashionFriday outfits.

Fans dressed in #500FashionFridays attire will receive discounts at a variety of restaurants in downtown Indianapolis and Speedway. A list of participating establishments can be found at ims.com/500fashionfridays.

Other 500 Forward programs and events in 2018 include:

  • Welcome Program: A collaboration with Visit Indy, the Indianapolis Airport Authority and Hamilton County Tourism to ensure amped-up hospitality for visitors during the Month of May. This includes welcome signage at Indianapolis International Airport and many hotels in Indianapolis and Hamilton County. Taxi cab drivers also received special Indy 500 advocate training and checkered car flags.
  • Indy 500 Porch Parties: A popular program returning through support from the Harrison Center for the Arts. Central Indiana residents are once again encouraged to celebrate the Month of May with officially registered porch parties.
  • 500 Gives Back: A grant program administered by the 500 Festival to support community organizations implementing life-enriching events, activities and programs, while also celebrating the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500.
  • Bike to the 500: The third annual ride will take place on Race Day, Sunday, May 27, in collaboration with the Indianapolis bike advocacy organization IndyCog.
  • Statewide Engagement Program: IMS Historian Donald Davidson and former Greencastle Mayor Mike Harmless are traveling to communities across the state of Indiana this spring to give presentations and answer questions from fans about the rich history of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Organizations participating in 500 Forward include the 500 Festival, Arts Council of Indianapolis, City of Indianapolis, Downtown Indy, Hamilton County Tourism, Harrison Center for the Arts, IMS Museum, Indiana Humanities, Indianapolis Airport Authority, IndyHub, IndyCog, Speedway Chamber of Commerce, Visit Indy and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For more information about 500 Forward and all Month of May activities at IMS, visit IMS.com.