What is the Indianapolis 500?
Have you heard about "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing?" If you have, it is the Indianapolis 500, which is conventionally called the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. In simple words, you can also refer to it as the "Indy 500." Indianapolis 500 is a famous automobile race that takes place annually at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), Speedway in Indiana, U.S.A.
IndyCar Series, or Indy Car Racing, is the top tier of American Championship Car Racing, including the Indianapolis 500. The race first started in 1911 and now takes place annually on Sunday, Memorial Day.
The event often falls on the May month's last weekend. So, unlike NASCAR stock cars, Indy cars go 500 miles around the oval course at speeds greater than 200 mph. The current winner of "Indy 500" in 2022 is Marcus Ericsson drove a Number 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Indianapolis 500 - All Quick Overview
- Category: Special Interest and Sports
- Where It’s marked: U.S.A.
- Why It’s marked: It marks the most fantastic racing sport in the United States, which gets over 250,000 audiences yearly.
History Of the Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis 500 earned its popularity long back in the 1900s. So, you can say that the event is as old as the combustion engine. The race track was, at first, a local automobile industry testing facility built in 1909. Later, the place was transformed into a race course, now Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Even though the concept was new, it witnessed 15,000 people crowd at that time.
However, the tracks weren’t as you see them today. The owner made it with crushed gravel and tar, which they replaced with bricks afterwards. That is why the speedway is also called the “Brickyard.”
Although the brick race track looked attractive, it wasn't efficient because, in its first 100 laps race, two accidents occurred due to some breakage in the path. But now, almost the whole track is repaved with asphalt except for the start and finish line, which still has a 36-inch uncovered brick.
Moreover, the car race course is 2.5 miles with two 3,300-foot and 660-foot straightaways, and approximately 9 degrees angles are assembled into each of the 4-quarter-mile (400-metre) curves.
American Automobile Association (AAA) sponsored the Indianapolis 500 in its starting days, but from 1956-1997, the United States Auto Club (USAC) started investing in it. They created Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) in 1979, which replaced USAC in the middle of the 1990s. But CART’s sponsorship didn’t stick around much because, in 1996, Indy Racing League (IRL) was made by Tony George, Owner of Speedway, to overrule the controls of CART.
Soon, CART became bankrupt in 2003, and IRL overtook the sponsorship responsibilities completely. But wait, there's more to the history. After being bankrupt, CART re-branded itself as "Champ Car," which the IRL integrated into them in 2008.
The cars for Indianapolis 500 are not just race cars but are specially modified ones. The modifications have taken considerable time to reach where it is now: low-slung, open-wheel, open-cockpit chassis with a 183.6 cubic inches displacement, rear-mounted heightened-performance motor. These are the authorized car specifications for the race, which took decades of replacements and modifications.
Moreover, even the drivers must pass a qualification race of four-lap time to take part in the race. Then, the qualified racers compete for the championship in a 200-lap or 500 miles race with 33 cars, organized in three rows according to their qualifying time.
The first champion of the Indianapolis 500 race was Ray Harroun. At that time, he received $14,250 for completing the race in 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds. Very impressive for that time, right? You won't believe his average speed was 74.6 miles/hour.
How To Celebrate Indianapolis 500?
Indianapolis 500 may not excite everyone, but it sure is a day to let yourself relax and watch people racing at high speeds. If you have no other plans, here are some things people do on the day.
1. Buy tickets to the race
As the Indianapolis 500 race always takes place on Sundays, buy a ticket. Invite your friends and watch the race. Even if you are not a big fan, a day spent with your friends won't be so bad.
2. Watch the live broadcast on your TV
If you are a couch potato like us, why don’t you enjoy the live broadcast in the comfort of your living room? Make some popcorn, grab a drink, and watch the exciting car race on TV.
3. Learn about the Indy 500
It is the day to learn about some Indy 500 history. As the event dates back to the early 1900s, there is much information you can find in books, online, and on TV. No information is useless, especially if you are a car race fanatic.
Countries That Observe Indianapolis 500
The United States of America holds the Indianapolis 500 annually.
Exciting Facts About Indianapolis 500
It is impossible for such an exciting race not to have any interesting facts. So, we have some interesting Indy 500 facts for you.
- In 1913, Frenchman Jules Goux was the first foreigner to win the race.
- Winners have been drinking milk as a traditional celebration activity since 1936. This activity became a tradition when Louis Meyer asked to drink a glass of milk after he won the race in 1936.
- In 1977, women started participating in the race.
- Rick Mears, AJ Foyt, and Al Unser have won the Indianapolis 500 race four times.
- In 1952, a 22-year-old driver, Troy Ruttman, won the Indy 500.
- The highest average speed (190.690 mph) until now for the Indy 500 is by the winner of 2021, Helio Castroneves from Brazil.
Indianapolis 500 Quotes
Here are some quotes for the Indianapolis 500 to get you motivated for the big race.
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” — Bobby Unser
“I want to win a championship and to win the Indy 500 makes me want it so much more.” — Scott Dixon
“I looked at motor racing in America where at the Indy 500 the drivers are told ‘gentlemen start your engines’ and the crowd goes wild because they know the race is about to start. I needed a hook and came up with ‘let's get ready to rumble” — Michael Buffer
1. How many people watch Indianapolis 500?
Currently, an estimated 5 million people watch Indianapolis 500 every year.
2. How many Indianapolis 500 races have taken place till now?
In 2022, there have been 106 running editions of the Indianapolis 500 with 74 winners.
3. Why did the Indianapolis 500 get canceled 6 times?
The Indianapolis 500 was postponed 6 times due to the two World War crises.
Indianapolis 500 Observances
|2021||Sunday||30 May||Indianapolis 500|
|2022||Sunday||29 May||Indianapolis 500|
|2023||Sunday||28 May||Indianapolis 500|
|2024||Sunday||26 May||Indianapolis 500|
|2025||Sunday||25 May||Indianapolis 500|
|2026||Sunday||24 May||Indianapolis 500|
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