NEWS: Here in Indianapolis, we look forward to the Month of May all year long, as we play host to the magnificent Indy 500 each Memorial Day weekend. Dubbed “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indianapolis 500 has taken place annually since 1911, and consists of 200 laps around a 2.5 mile oval course, for a total of 500 miles. However, there’s much more to this event than tiny cars zooming around and around, and the festivities here in town certainly reflect that.
Here are a few fun facts about the race, from the official website:
- Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum and Vatican City all can fit inside the IMS oval, which covers 253 acres.
- The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest spectator sporting facility, with more than 250,000 permanent seats. If the seat boards from the grandstands at IMS were laid end-to-end, they would stretch 99.5 miles.
- The first event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a helium gas-filled balloon competition on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.
Now, when you hear people talking about the Indy 500, you will likely hear terms that seem to mean one thing, but actually mean something very different. For example:
- MARBLES: Drivers hate marbles. They’re little bits of tires and other grit that litter the track, making conditions slippery and dangerous.
- HAPPY HOUR: No cocktails here, folks; happy hour refers to practice laps.
- POLE: The car that gets to be in front of the pack at the start of the race, and it’s determined by qualifying rounds. In fact, Pole Day at the track is just as much fun as Race Day, and it’s a great opportunity to see and possibly meet some of your favorite drivers – they love it just as much as fans do!
- DOWNFORCE: This is where you may wish you’d studied a little harder in high school physics, because it’s one of the factors that makes auto racing so interesting. Downforce relates to the pressure the car exerts on the track, and the engineers’ challenge is to strike the perfect balance to allow the car to both be able to turn corners at high speeds AND accelerate on the straightaway.
- DIRTY AIR: the turbulence created by the wake of the other cars.
Want to learn more? Here’s a link to a full glossary of terms, so you will be fully prepared for Sunday – see you at the track!