Each May, since 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the center of the racing universe. Every Memorial Day weekend, the 2.5 mile oval speedway has hosted the Indianapolis 500. Each race day has seen over 300,000 people in attendance at the track, and millions more watching on television. The Indy 500 is truly one of the greatest sporting events in the world.
The first Indianapolis 500 in 1911 was won by Ray Harroun, who had an average speed of 75 miles per hour. The first race took 6 hours and 42 minutes, making it a marathon endurance race for drivers, cars and fans. Out of the 40 cars which took the green flag, only 26 cars were there at the finish of the race. Many of the drivers in the race were so fatigued that they needed to have relief drivers take their place during the race.
The brickyard, named because the track was originally paved with over three million bricks, has been the scene of many exciting races, by some of the most famous drivers in the world. All wanting to race for the honor of winning the great 500-mile race. The race has been contested every year except for during World War I and World War II, when do races were run.
Over the course of history of the Indy 500, drivers such as A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford and Mario Andretti have all won the race. In addition, foreign drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Emerson Fittapaldi have put their names on the winning trophy.
The cars have dramatically changed over the years. Because of the technological advances of the cars with powerful engines and streamlined designs, instead of taking nearly 7 hours to complete the race as was the case during the early years, the races of today are generally completed in under 3 hours.
To learn more about one of the most famous events in the world, please look at the following resources to help you enjoy watching the Indianapolis 500 auto race.