When you think of May in Indiana there is normally a few things that pop in your mind but I bet the biggest thing most people are thinking of is the INDIANAPOLIS 500. It’s only The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It is considered one of the three most prestigious motorsports events in the world. The Indianapolis 500 is met by people all over the United States. Famous actors and actresses, singers, professional athletes and everyday people come to Indiana just to watch the race. Whether it is rain or shine you are sure to have a blast. The Indianapolis 500 falls over Memorial Day weekend every year but the events last all month long. One of the BIGGEST traditions with the Indy 500 is Carb Day. It is held the Friday before the race and is the final practice session before the race on Sunday. There is a lot going on that day as well as the final practice laps the speedway holds a concert each year. It also has been turned into one of the biggest drinking days of the year. Lots of people spend the whole weekend (Friday to Sunday) at the track camping, grilling out and parting with their friends.
A little History of the Indy 500
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 as a gravel and tar track. This was host to many small events like motorcycle racing. During the first two events there were two fatal accidents because of the breakup of asphalt. This gathering brought 15,000 people to the track.
Carl G Fisher who was the principal owner decided to spend $155,000 on repaving the track with 3.2 Million bricks and added a concrete wall 2ft 9 inches high. The newly remolded track drew in 60,000 spectators in on Memorial Day weekend 1910. Throughout the rest of the year the track’s crowds grew progressively smaller. Carl decided to do a 24 hour contest with the winner would be awarded $25,000.
The first 500 was held on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911 and it had 40 starters. This race was host to the first car ever to have a rear view mirror. This race drew in crowds of 80,000 people. Carl was so happy that he decided to establish an annual tradition. In 1912 the winnings was raised to $50,000 and the field was limited to only 33 drivers. 1912 was the first time an American driver won with an American car. This gave the European car makers incentive to build better, faster and stronger cars.
The Indianapolis 500 attracts more than 300,000 people.
In 1927 the Purdue All-American Marching Band began performing on the track near the finish line and has been the host band ever since.
1946 American Operatic tenor and car enthusiast James Melton started the tradition of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” with the Purdue Band. It was then taken over by Jim Nabors in 1972. Sadly Mr. Nabors will be retiring from singing the song at this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Female Participation of any sort were banned from the Indianapolis 500. Even women reports were not allowed in the “Pit” until 1971.
The first woman to ever qualify for the Indianapolis 500 was Janet Guthrie in 1977.
Sarah Fisher has competed 8 times.
Danica Patrick led the race in 2005 for 19 laps which is the first time a woman has ever led in laps and her 3rd place finish in 2009 is the best finish for a woman ever.
Milk was introduced in the 1933 Indy 500 when Louis Meyers requested a glass of buttermilk after his win. A local dairy company saw that the winner was drinking milk and decided to offer a bottle of milk to the winner for all future races. Milk has been presented at all of the races.
At the 1993 Indy 500 the winner Emerson Fittipaldi who owns and operates and orange grove drank orange juice instead of milk and was booed by the fans.
Don’t forget to wish your Mother(s) a Happy Mother’s Day
Until next time………….