BLOG: The build up to the 2019 Indianapolis 500

A large crowd surrounds the red carpet at the 2019 Indianapolis 500. (WTHR)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — It's finally time for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Eyewitness News had dozens of staff in and around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

12 p.m. - This blog is now closed. Click here for our race blog.

11:15 a.m. - Kelly Clarkson will sing the National Anthem before the race. This will be her third time.

11:00 a.m. - A thunderstorm to the west is heading toward Indiana. Live Doppler 13 Meteorologist Angela Buchman said there's a chance the storm will stay on the current path which would affect the race. However, she said there's also a possibility the storm will head south of Indianapolis.

10:29 a.m. - The crowd was at least 5 people deep the entire perimeter of the red carpet at IMS. The crowd was hoping to catch a view of the many celebrities attending the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, like actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale.

RACE DAY MORNING: We're LIVE on the red carpet! Join Alyssa Raymond as she talks with the celebrities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Posted by WTHR-TV on Sunday, May 26, 2019

10:00 a.m. - Eyewitness News is monitoring a storm near St. Louis that could cause some trouble for the Indianapolis 500.

Right now at IMS, 600 Indiana national guardsmen are having a departure ceremony. They deploy tomorrow.

9:53 a.m. - 50 years ago, Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500.

Today Andretti talked with Eyewitness News reporter Rich Nye from Gasoline Alley.

"It's been amazing this whole month," Andretti said about the anniversary of his win. "I'm very partial to NBC for what they've done promoting the (anniversary.)"

9:42 a.m. - The biggest backup is 16th St. headed to the track. Westbound traffic is taking an extra 40 minutes to get from MLK St. to IMS.

9:35 a.m. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rutledge Wood braved the Snake Pit to experience the Indianapolis 500.

9:31 a.m. - Live Doppler 13 Meteorologist Chuck Lofton was hanging out at the yard of bricks.

He said fans were generally very excited to be on the track. Chuck joked about catching a bug after kissing the bricks.

9:25 a.m. - Governor Eric Holcomb stopped by Eyewitness News for a chat about race day.

"This is a signature event," Holcomb said. "We'll have 19 different nations watching this."

8:59 a.m. - There is currently a 40 minute delay on westbound 16th St. from White River to IMS.

The milk arrived at the speedway. It is tradition for the winner to "drink the milk" at the end of the race.

The dairy farmer from Ft. Wayne can't wait until the end of the race.

"I'm so excited to give that bottle of milk out to the winner," Andrew Kuehnert said.

8:52 a.m. - It wouldn't be race day without a little fun. Simon Pagenaud​ turned to an unlikely source to get some help with his race strategy

You would think being the pole sitter for today's #Indy500 would be enough of an advantage for Simon Pagenaud official. Scott Dixon found out otherwise yesterday...

Posted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26, 2019

8:48 a.m. - IMS Senior Vice President Allison Melangton told Eyewitness News Anchor Emeritus John Stehr that the speedway is focused on the experience.

Melangton said, "There are a lot of hard core race fans but a lot of people come today for an epic event experience."

8:43 a.m. - The music is rocking the Snake Pit in turn 3's infield.

8:40 a.m. - The rain has avoided the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so far. Live Doppler 13 Meteorologist Angela Buchman is forecast rain this afternoon at the speedway.

8:35 a.m. - Eyewitness News photographer Scott Allen reports traffic at 30th and Lafayette Rd. is heavy but moving steadily.

8:25 a.m. - Eyewitness News reporter Rich Nye caught up with Indianapolis local Ed Carpenter.

Carpenter will start his 16th consecutive Indianapolis 500 today.

He told Rich, "We came here with a narrow focus and hopefully we will be rewarded today."

As for traffic, southbound 465 is backed up on the approach to Crawfordsville Rd. It is taking 35 extra minutes to make it through that area.

7:54 a.m. - The traffic back-up is continuing to build.

16th St. is backed up to Lafayette Rd. 10th is backed up to 465 and 465 south at Crawfordsville Rd. is backed up to 38th.

Security is also ever present at IMS.

7:51 a.m. - Mario Andretti was escorted to IMS by the pit crew from his 1969 Indy 500 win.

There's nothing like 500 fashion.

7:39 a.m. - Rich Nye is in Gasoline Alley and caught up with Firestone Tires.

Firestone said they'll use about 6,000 tires at IMS this month.

7:35 a.m. - The sun is starting to appear over the Brickyard.

Speedway Police are urging fans to keep their drones at home.

7:30 a.m. - The southbound 465 exit ramp to Crawfordsville Rd. is backing up.

IMS is reminding fans if they are riding their bikes to the track, please park at Gate 1.

Meanwhile, teams are in the pits getting everything placed for race.

7:25 a.m. - This guy wins.

7:20 a.m. - The rain, for now, is staying to the north of IMS.

7:06 a.m. - The Snake Pit is now open. The song "Circle of Life" from the Lion King played over the speakers are fans rushed in.

7:02 a.m. - Traffic is backing up on westbound 16th St. all the way to Tibbs.

Speedway Police report that Georgetown Rd. is now closed south of 25th St.

6:32 a.m. - If you are heading to the speedway today, check out the special Mario Andretti exhibit at the museum.

6:25 a.m. - NBC Sports is on site and preparing for hours of coverage of the Indianapolis 500.

6:20 a.m. - The rush is on in the infield to get the best tailgating spots.

Fans are packing their cars to get as many people into the track as possible.

Chopper 13 is about to take to the skies to track traffic this morning. Watch Channel 13 or the live stream for the latest traffic updates.

6:15 a.m. - Tailgating has already started in the infield at IMS.

Crews are setting up the red carpet outside the pagoda.

6:00 a.m. - The gates have opened at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Race Day 2019.

5:53 a.m. - Drivers and their teams are starting to wake up.

5:45 a.m. - According to Live Doppler 13 Meteorologist Lindsey Monroe, the current line of storms is currently moving through central Indiana at 50 mph. She's expecting a lull in rain to occur in the mid-morning. Another front will arrive this afternoon triggering more storms.

5:32 a.m. - IMS Sr. VP Allison Melangton said it's business as usual for race day. There are plans to collapse pre-race events because of the weather if needed.

5:20 a.m. - Fans are lined up and waiting to enter the gates at IMS. The track opens to the public at 6 a.m.

5:10 a.m. - The weather is on the minds of IMS staff. Weather messaging can be seen all around the track.

The Eyewitness News team is on the air for seven hours of race coverage.