Carb Day kicks off race weekend

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The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for Sunday. But today could be called the official kickoff of race weekend. "Carb Day" at the Motor Speedway signals the final practice for the drivers who will line up for Sunday's race.

Carb Day is a longstanding tradition at the Speedway - although the carburetors that gave the day its name are long gone.

But the fun remains. Some consider this one of the best days in the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It starts this morning with vintage cars in the plaza.  Then, the last practice for the drivers in the race is almost always exciting.  

This is only the second year the race will feature the new design of Indycars. "The speeds are up a little this year," said Speedway spokesperson Doug Boles. "We believe the competition will be up this year because of these new cars. We've had a year under our belts. The teams have a better understanding of the cars and what makes them go faster."

The Indy Lights also race tonight as the stepping stone series for IndyCar. And then there is the official pit stop competition. 

The day concludes with Poison taking the stage in the plaza for the annual Carb Day concert.

Tomorrow, tens of thousands of people will line the streets of downtown for the 500 Festival Parade - one of the largest parades of its kind in the country.

Security will be in full force in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. "You'll probably see additional dogs downtown just doing sweeps and staying around and staying alert to other situations," said Gary Coons of Homeland Security. We still have things behind the scenes that we don't talk about. But we feel pretty confident."

If you take something to the parade like a cooler or backpack, keep it with you. Don't leave it behind. And if you see something, say something. That's the message law enforcement is hoping fans will remember throughout the weekend if they notice suspicious activity.

The schedule for Carb Day:

Gates are open from 8:00 a.m to 6 p.m.

You can see the vintage cars at 8:30 a.m.

The Speedway holds its Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 10:00 a.m.

IndyCar practice starts at 11:00 a.m.

The Firestone Freedom 100 race for Indy Lights starts at 12:30 p.m.

The Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge is set for at 2:00 p.m.

And, finally, the Coors Light Carb Day Concert featuring Poison starts at 3:30 p.m.