"There was Christmas, there was Easter, and there was the Indianapolis 500."
- Donald Davidson, Indy Track Historian
Memorial Day Weekend means backyard cookouts and beach parties to most but to INDYCAR fans this holiday is so much more. Every Memorial Day hundreds of thousands of fans convene at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (and millions more tune-in) for the Indy 500. This year “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is reaching a milestone with its centennial running, so the festivities are going to be bigger than ever.
The Indy 500 is iconic Americana – it tops the bucket list of many sports fans and the venue itself is a sight to behold. With the 2.5 mile oval race track and 18-hole golf course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest permanent sports venue in the country. How big is it? Look what would fit just inside the oval!
When entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher first built the speedway as an automotive test ground in 1909, he quickly recognized the American public’s desire for speed. Despite some initial setbacks and dangerous track conditions, he repaved the oval with bricks and announced a 500-mile race in 1911. An estimated 80,000 spectators attended on that first Memorial Day race. Forty cars competed with Ray Harroun winning at an average speed of 74 miles per hour. After 100 years, two World Wars and economic depressions, the event lives on to draw 400,000 spectators and 33 of the best drivers from around the globe.
Now reaching speeds of 220 mph, INDYCAR is the fastest racing series in the world and INDYCAR drivers are among the most daring athletes in motorsports. The 500 has crowned a total of 69 winners in the last century, from Ray Harroun to Juan Pablo Montoya. Legends Day on the eve of the 100th 500 will celebrate these drivers who have become a part of racing immortality.
Who will taste victory this year? Tune into to the IMS broadcast on May 29th at noon.