Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500 - Friday, May 24, 2024

Sports Cars Festivities

They call it “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” — for a reason. The Indianapolis 500 is the world’s most iconic automobile race. Indy cars, as opposed to the stock cars of NASCAR, whiz around the 2.5-mile oval track at speeds exceeding 200 mph for a total of 500 miles. (That’s 250 times around!) First run in 1911, the race is now held on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — known to racing fans around the world as the Brickyard. If you go, get there early, bring sunscreen, and get set to witness motorsports history.

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud qualified with the top speed this year — making him the pole-sitter — meaning he’ll start the event on the inside of Row 1.

Every year thousands of fans gather to watch the most famous and highly skilled drivers in the world compete in the Indianapolis 500. The Indy 500 is one of the most sought after achievements of these drivers, and it is considered an endurance trial to compete in, and win, the race. If you love fast cars and high-revved engines, then the Indianapolis 500 is going to be your favorite time of year.

History of Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 has been around almost as long as the combustion engine, first being hosted in 1909 in the then new Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you think that things are brutal now, the track back then was made of little but gravel and tar, and the first 100-lap race there actually had two fatalities due to breaks in the asphalt. What cannot be denied, however, is the popularity of these races, even in those early days 15,000 people would attend the race, leading to the renovation of the track.

The first repaving wasn’t actually done with asphalt, however, instead, the race track was built out of bricks! 3.2 million bricks to be precise, as well as a 2ft 9in concrete wall all the way around to prevent injuries to the viewers. His investment decidedly paid off, as the next race to be held there had 60,000 people in attendance. Little did he know that this was just the beginning of what would be an incredible journey for the Indianapolis 500, and people who really enjoyed watching cars turning left.

If there’s anything people who follow racing know, it’s that drivers and car engineers alike are a little insane. The amount of precision that goes into building an Indy racer can’t be denied, and every year sees them carefully monitoring, modifying, and tinkering with their cars to get the best possible performance. Little wonder, considering that prizes have been offered in the amount of $20,000,000 for anyone who could win both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, a feat which was almost accomplished in 2014, but for a blown engine.

How to Celebrate Indianapolis 500

The best way to Celebrate the Indianapolis 500 is to get yourself a set of tickets for you and your fellow fans and get yourself out to the race track to watch it in person. Failing that, get a bunch of buddies together at your house with some Super Bowl worthy snacks, and watch the Super Bowl of racing, the Indianapolis 500.

Indianapolis 500 timeline


Name says it all

Aptly-named Australian Will Power won the Indy 500 although he didn’t hold the lead for good until the the final laps. The win gave owner Roger Penske his record 17th victory. “I want to cry," said Power. "I was wondering if I would ever win it."


She's #1 (for a while)

Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead the Indy 500, although she didn't go on to win.


Photo finish

Al Unser Jr. beat Scott Goodyear by less than a half-second, the closest Indy 500 ever.


Four-time winner

AJ Foyt became the first quadruple winner of the Indy 500.


Long drive

Ray Haroun won the first Indy 500 race with a time of 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Fast Indy 500 Facts

  1. Who's that kid?

    Troy Ruttman was 22 years old when he won the Indy 500 in 1952.

  2. Whoosh!

    Arie Luyendyk clocked in at 237.498 mph during a qualifying lap in 1996.

  3. Four trophies

    Three drivers have won the Indy 500 four times – Al Unser, AJ Foyt, and Rick Mears.

  4. Got milk?

    Indy 500 winner Louis Meyer drank a glass of buttermilk in Victory Lane after the race in 1936. It's been a tradition pretty much every year since.

  5. Conserving fuel

    Both World Wars put the Indy 500 on hold — forcing cancellation a total of six times. Other than that, the race has taken place every year since 1911.

Indianapolis 500 Activities

  1. Watch

    Nearly 5 million viewers watched the Indy 500 last year on ABC. Pop some popcorn, plop down on the couch, and join the excitement. You never know what might happen in the unpredictable spectacle of Indy car racing.

  2. Join the fun at the Brickyard

    Even people who aren't big fans of automobile racing have the Indy 500 on their bucket list to attend. Like the Kentucky Derby, or the Super Bowl, or the Masters golf tournament, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  3. Learn about the history of the race

    Many books capture important moments in the history of the Indy 500. You might start with "Black Noon: The Year They Stopped the Indy 500," about the race in 1964 that began with a massive wreck that killed two drivers.

Why We Love Indianapolis 500

  1. A century of speed

    This is the 103rd running of the race. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the event, was built in 1909. The first race took place in 1911.

  2. There's lots of drama

    In 2011, Dan Wheldon of Great Britain overtook American J.R. Hildebrand on the final lap to win. And racing legend Al Unser was almost 48 years old when he won in 1987. Who says older people can't drive?

  3. It's huge!

    The IMS is the largest sports venue in the world, with a seating capacity of 257,000. You could fit the entire city of St. Petersburg, Florida inside!

Also on Fri May 24, 2024...

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