Wacky World Of Sports
Superfans already know that Indianapolis, America's sporting capital, packs a major-league punch with teams and events like the Colts and the Indy 500. But if you don't want to pay $60 for a ticket and $6 for a hotdog, this city's still got you covered. Especially if you like your athletics served with a side of strange.
This 1/5-mile track near downtown Indianapolis is a landmark of sorts, because it's believed to be the birthplace of figure 8 racing — a sort of high-speed demolition derby where the racecourse actually includes an intersection. That's right, an area where cars approach each other at high speeds and are likely to collide. Fans can see every gruesome, titillating detail because the blacktop tarmac where the carnage takes place is roughly the size of a Denny's parking lot. Saturday adult general admission is $11. Three-day tickets for early September's World Figure 8 Championship — the Super Bowl of the sport — cost $35.
NAPTOWN ROLLER GIRLS
This semi-pro roller derby club fields a varsity squad called the Tornado Sirens and a JV team called the Warning Belles. Both of them skate, shove and skirmish (and break the occasional bone) at the marvelously vintage-looking Pepsi Coliseum. The NRG competes in the Women's Flat Track Derby Association, and their players go by on-track monikers like Cherry UnCordial and Dora the Destroyer. Tickets are $17 at the door for adults and seating is general admission. If you want a really close look, ask about the Suicide Seats, where the only thing separating fans from the action is a line on the floor.
This obscure pastime is a near-extinct offshoot of regular bowling that uses a hole-free, grapefruit-sized ball to knock over equally diminutive pins. Once a popular pastime it's now only found in a handful of places out East and one spot in the Midwest. Here, you'll find it at two venues: Action Duckpin Bowl, an eight-lane alley that's fitted out with authentic, century-old equipment and enough bowling memorabilia to make the guys from American Pickers drool; and the Atomic Bowl, which is packed with ' 50s-era retro kitsch. Rental is usually $30 per lane.
The oddest thing about Indy's Triple-A, Pittsburgh Pirates-affiliated minor-league baseball team is its stubborn refusal to move with the times. Every other sports organization in the universe sells naming rights to its stadium, but the Indians — who played their first season in 1902, making them the country's second-oldest minor-league squad — steadfastly refuse. And it's not like their venue is a dump. Victory Field, located in the heart of downtown, was named the best minor-league ballpark in the country by both Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. Games are a bargain, with box seats going for around $14.