In a country full of football and the Super Bowl fans, Indianapolis 500 has created its own place in American sporting traditions. It’s been called the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Even people with low interest in racing are familiar with this motorsport.
It’s a 500-mile test of speed, endurance, and bravery on an oval track known as “The Brickyard”, which takes place in the month of May. Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile (4km) race track that’s not only the oldest of its kind but also the largest sporting venue anywhere on Earth.
Indy car racers have gathered at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1911 to run the 500-miles-over-200-laps race with the hopes of taking the checkered flag.
This year marks the 101st running of the Indy 500, and as always the Indy 500 fans are expecting more speed, action, thrill and drama at the event.
Here are few things which make Indianapolis 500 the Greatest Spectacle in the racing world:
- The Indianapolis 500 has outlasted two world wars, the decline of the automobile industry, a bitter split in open-wheel racing and more death than anyone cares to recall.
- The Indy 500 started in 1911, with Ray Harroun as the winner. The race itself lasted nearly seven hours and Harroun’s average speed was 74.59 mph.
- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world. The speedway grounds are constructed in about 253 acres of land and even include a golf course. The 2.5-mile oval boasts a seating capacity of approximately 250,000, plus infield accommodations that raise its head count to an unparalleled 400,000. It’s even bigger than Vatican City, the Roman Colosseum, and Yankee Stadium!
- The Indianapolis 500 is the Biggest One-Day Sporting Event in the World. Not only is it the most popular and largest single day event, but it also gathers quite a crowd indoors, across the globe. The Indy 500 is broadcasted in over 200 countries and 290+ million households
- The tradition of drinking milk after winning the race began with Louis Meyer. It all started in 1936 with Louis Meyer, who actually won the 500 on three separate occasions. Since 1956, the winner traditionally drinks a bottle of milk in Victory Lane.
- Winners of the Indy 500 don’t just get their name inscribed on the race’s historic Borg-Warner Trophy—they also get their likeness permanently sculpted onto its sterling-silver base.
- Seven women have started the Indy 500, but Janet Guthrie (1977) was the first, qualifying 26th and finishing 29th.
- In 1977 Tom Sneva became the first driver at the Speedway to turn a lap at more than 200 mph.
- The fastest qualifying speed is 231.468 by Buddy Lazier in 1996.
What’s this year for the Indy 500 fans?
- The two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso, will contest this year’s Indianapolis 500 in a McLaren-entered car. Alonso will race a McLaren entry run by the Honda-affiliated Andretti Autosport IndyCar team, headed by former McLaren F1 racer Michael Andretti.
- This year, Jim Cornelison, known for singing the national anthem at Chicago Blackhawks’ games, will sing “(Back Home Again in) Indiana” for the 101st running of The Indianapolis 500.
- The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 ticket features 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi
- A pair of Indianapolis businessman have created a new IndyCar team. The new team, Harding Racing, was formed by Mike Harding of Harding Group and Dennis Reinbold of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
- IndyCar 2015 Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves will return for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 with the brand-new Harding Racing.
- Andretti Autosport has chosen British driver Jack Harvey for its fifth entry into next month’s Indianapolis 500. It will be the first IndyCar Series race for Harvey, who has raced in 30 Indy Lights events and won the British F3 championship in 2003.
The anticipation, the excitement is back again this year with 101st Indy 500. An Indy 500 win is a stellar mark on any racer’s resume.
Game changing technology and new ideas have strengthen the Speedway. Today’s turbocharged, bewinged, mid-engined carbon-fiber creations would be unrecognizable to the contestants from the early days. This is unsurprising, given how much the automobile has evolved in 105 years. The evolution of Indy 500 racecars demonstrates how competition can both encourage and stifle innovation.