Motorsports

Indy 500: How many cars race, how long is it, where is it & more

When is the Indy 500?

The 2022 Indy 500 will take place on Sunday 29th May, on Memorial Day Weekend. 

How many laps and miles is the Indy 500?

The “500” part of the name refers to the length of the race in miles. The drivers cover that distance by running 200 laps of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

How long does the Indy 500 last?

The Indy 500 usually lasts around three hours, although this can vary depending on how many cautions are needed. The quickest Indy 500 was last year, when Helio Castroneves’ Meyer Shank Racing-Honda took victory in just 2hrs 37min 19.3846sec at an average speed of 190.690mph, while the longest race of the last 10 years was in 2017, when Takuma Sato won in 3:13:03.

Why is Indianapolis Motor Speedway called “The Brickyard”?

The IMS circuit has a long history, having first opened its gates on 12th August, 1909. The circuit was a mix of gravel, limestone, tar and oil when it first opened, which proved to be a tremendously dangerous mix for a race track; five people – one driver, two mechanics and two spectators – were killed in the first week of its opening. 

Checkered flag for Ray Harroun in 1911

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Following the fatalities, track owner Carl Fisher completely resurfaced the track with bricks.

Over the years the bricks gave way to asphalt and in 1961 the track was a completely sealed surface, save for 36” of bricks which remain on the start/finish line to this day. 

 

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Where is the Indy 500?

The Indy 500 takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is in Indianapolis, IN. While it’s most famous for the racing circuit, the track also has an 18-hole golf course, with four of those holes sitting in the infield of the circuit. Indy’s first competitive event, however, was a gas-powered balloon race in 1909.

How many cars race in the Indy 500?

The entry list is capped at 33 cars for the Indy 500. This limit was originally devised in 1911, and was calculated by determining that a safe distance between equally-spread cars would be 400 feet – thereby allowing 33 cars on the 2.5-mile track. 33 cars started the Indy 500 in all but two of the races since 1934 – both the 1979 and 1997 editions saw 35 competitors.

Has there ever been a caution-free Indy 500?

Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Jay Alley

No – there has always been a caution during the Indy 500. The 2014 running of the race did see the longest caution-free period though, with the field completing 149 consecutive laps of the 200 lap race before the caution flag flew (which was prompted by Charlie Kimball crashing in turn 2).

The 2021 race saw 30 of the 33 cars finish the race, the most ever.

How many Indy 500s have there been?

2022 will be the 106th Indy 500, with the first one having occurred in 1911. Since then there have only been six years without an Indy 500 – 1917-18 (missed due to World War I), 1942-45 (missed due to World War II).

Why can’t people in Indianapolis watch the Indy 500 on TV?

Something that people outside of Indiana might not be aware of is the blackout of the Indy 500 in its hometown. This is done to try and get people to go to buy one of the estimated 300,000-plus tickets and watch it live, rather than at home. Only five times in the race’s 105 year history have people in Indianapolis been able to watch the race from home – 1949, 1950, 2016, 2020 and ’21.

In 2016, this decision was made because the 100th running of the race caused tickets to sell out, so in order that local fans didn’t miss seeing the event in real time, TV restrictions were lifted. The same thinking and decision were applied the last two years. In 2020, tickets weren’t on sale at all due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing statewide restrictions on crowds. Last year, those restrictions had been eased but still ticket sales were capped at 135,000, (about 40 percent capacity). 


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