Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500
a 500-mile oval-track race for rear-engine cars having particular specifications, held annually in Indianapolis, Ind.

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U.S. automobile race.

It has been held annually since 1911 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mi (4-km) asphalt oval with banked quarter-mile turns. The "Indy 500" is a 500-mi (805-km) race for top international competitors using specially designed Formula One cars (open-wheel, open-cockpit, rear-engine vehicles). Traditionally held on or near Memorial Day, the race is one of the most prestigious on the international racing circuit, drawing large crowds (about 300,000) and offering substantial prizes (more than $1.5 million).

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▪ automobile race
  U.S. automobile race held annually from 1911, except for the war years 1917–18 and 1942–45. The race is always run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, a suburban enclave of Indianapolis, Indiana. Drawing crowds of several hundred thousand people, the race is among the world's best-attended single-day sporting events. It is held on the weekend of the country's Memorial Day holiday.

      Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 as a testing facility for the local automotive industry. The track was first paved with crushed rock and tar but was soon repaved with brick; hence, the speedway is often called the “Brickyard.” Resurfacing with asphalt has covered all but a 36-inch (91-cm) strip of bricks at the start/finish line. The 2.5-mile (4-km) track has two 3,300-foot (1,000-metre) straightaways, two 660-foot (200-metre) straightaways, and four quarter-mile (400-metre) turns each banked at an angle of about 9 degrees. The speedway is also home to a 400-mile (644-km) stock-car race each August.

      Racing cars used in the Indianapolis 500 have undergone considerable modification over time. The officially approved car now in use has an open-wheel, low-slung, open-cockpit chassis with a rear-mounted high-performance engine having a displacement of 183.6 cubic inches (3.0 litres). Drivers must first qualify in a four-lap time trial. The race starts with a field of 33 cars, arranged in rows of three on the basis of qualifying time. Racers then compete over a distance of 500 miles (800 km), or 200 laps.

      In 1911 American Ray Harroun won the first 500 in about 6 hours 42 minutes with an average speed of 74.6 miles (120.1 km) per hour; he received winnings of $14,250. By the race's ninth decade, the winner's average speed typically exceeded 160 miles (257 km) per hour—with single-lap speeds of some 220 miles (355 km) per hour—and earnings were roughly $1.3 million. The first foreigner to win the race was Frenchman Jules Goux in 1913, and women began competing in 1977. Since 1936 it has been traditional for the winner to celebrate by drinking a bottle of milk.

      In the early decades of the Indianapolis 500, the race was sanctioned by the American Automobile Association (AAA). From 1956 to 1997 the race was under the aegis of the United States Auto Club (USAC). A rival open-wheel racing series known as Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) was formed in 1979. By the mid-1990s CART had successfully replaced USAC as the leading power in IndyCar racing. In 1996 speedway owner Tony George formed the Indy Racing League (IRL) to counteract the influence of CART. The IRL has overseen the 500 since 1997. CART went bankrupt in 2003 and was re-formed the following year as Champ Car. In 2008 the IRL merged with Champ Car, unifying the two leagues under the IRL name.

       Indianapolis 500 Table A chronological list of Indianapolis 500 winners is provided in the table.

       IndyCar champion A chronological list of IndyCar champions is provided in the table.

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Universalium. 2010.

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