The Indy 500 takes place in the Heartland of America in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it’s one of the most amazing races and traditions we enjoy every year.
The Greatest Spectacle in Racing isn’t a race held in Europe or in one of the largest cities in the United States. Although the IndyCar season is comprised of 17 races, this one is the most special. The Indianapolis 500 is up there with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans when it comes to racing history, prestige, and popularity. Let’s see what makes this race so special.
The Largest Sports Venue in the World
When the track is 2 ½ miles long, you’ve got room for seating everywhere. The racetrack where this race is held has more seating than any other venue in the world. There are 257,000 permanent seats and more room on the infield for those that want to watch from that vantage point. The crowd for the 2022 race numbered 325,000 which was an amazing audience for the fastest lineup the race had ever seen. It doesn’t happen often, but the crowd can actually be louder than the cars at this event.
Passion and Tradition on Full Display
From the signing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” to the milk celebration for the winner, this race has its traditions and passionate fans. The streets of Speedway, Indiana, are lined with houses welcoming racers, fans and showing off their pride. Some families have been attending this race for generations and wouldn’t ever miss it, while others enjoy getting caught up in the once in a lifetime experience of attending the Indy 500.
The Experience Can be More Intimate
Along with being a little more intimate, the overall experience is a bit more affordable than most races. Those fans that desire an up close and personal look at the cars can get it with passes that allow you to walk up to the garages and look inside on non-race days. The cost of tickets is fairly reasonable compared to other races, making this race accessible to those that want to enjoy the fun, glory, and amazing experience that comes with this race.
Some Fans Get to Be Down By the Cars on Race Day
It’s not often that you see fans mingling among the cars before the drivers get in and take off, but at the Indy 500, you do. A few fortunate fans are allowed to enjoy this experience and participate in the chaos prior to the race. Many see the mechanics making the last-minute adjustments to the cars, while others might spot some of the racing greats down on the tarmac next to them. This is quite an intimate way of bringing fans and drivers together.
The Racing Gets Intense, Especially When Only a Few Laps Remain
Teams of racers work together to have the best chance of winning while also competing with each other to be the one in victory lane. When the flag drops, the racing is much like you see at other tracks, with teams functioning to take over spots from other teams while also racing each other for the lead. There’s nothing quite like those final few laps at the Indy 500; all the buildup is paid off with an exciting finish.
Leads Vanish Fast in Indianapolis
A lead racer could be ahead of the pack comfortably, but if a challenger behind them crashes, the caution flags come out, and the lead is gone. While that might not seem fair, that’s racing for you. During the latest race, a crash with only six laps to go dissolved the lead, but the leader was ultimately victorious despite losing the gap he had. This happens at almost all race tracks and is part of the sport.
The Start is Pretty Exciting Too
While we all clamor for the finish and to see who will drink the milk at the Indy 500, the start is pretty exciting and harrowing. Cars three-wide on the track work their way to 200 mph or more and try to avoid the treacherous contact that would cost them a spot on the track and possibly their car. Survival is the name of the start, and the main part of the race, and drivers work to get to that finish line.
Fans Get to See Racers Interact with Media and Them
Fans with garage access not only see the cars but also get to spend some time around the racers on non-race days. This race takes a full week of practice, and there’s a lot of time for drivers between sessions on the track. Many of these amazing drivers are willing to give a little time to the media and fans to let them enjoy the experience of meeting their favorite drivers who might autograph some drawings or a poster for the kids in the crowd.
The Indy 500 is as Patriotic as Apple Pie
We think of Apple Pie, Old Glory, and Racing as a trio of Americana. This incredible race is held on Memorial Day weekend every year, which is a time of remembrance and honor but also a time for a three-day weekend for most. This is the perfect way for many fans to have enough time to get to Indianapolis for this race and enjoy the amazing patriotism on display during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”
The Sounds and Smells Are Amazing
You might not think a 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged engine could be loud, but get 33 of them roaring at once, and you’re wrong. The sounds and the smells are intoxicating for any gear junkie that loves cars. This is true motorsports heaven and is a place where you might need a set of ear plugs just to protect your hearing during the three-hour race.
You don’t want to miss any of the action at the Indy 500. Is this race on your bucket list of things to do? If you love racing, it certainly should be.
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