Okay, so this may not be everything you want to know about the Indianapolis 500, but it's gotta be pretty close. From interesting facts and figures about the track and its history to some random tidbits about Indy racing-related stuff, read on so you can be That Guy next Sunday that's dropping knowledge about the race in order to impress your racin' buddies and/or their sexy-but-is-she-old-enough girlfriends.
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Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayLocation
4790 West 16th Street
Speedway, Indiana 46222
Built: Spring, 1909 on 328 acres of farmland northwest of Indianapolis.
Capacity: 250,000 seats (largest sporting venue in the country); 300,000+ total
Owner: Hulman and Co.
Total distance: 2.5 miles (4.0 km)
Long straightaways: 2 x 5/8 mile (1.0 km)
Short straightaways: 2 x 1/8 mile (0.2 km)
Turns: 4 x ¼ mile (0.4 km)
Overall length: 0.94 miles (1.52 km)
Overall width: 0.44 miles (0.71 km)
Shape: flat oval
Banking/turns: 9 degrees
Banking/straights: 0 degrees
Fastest lap, qualifying: 237.498 mph (Arie Luyendyk, 1998)
Fastest lap, race: 185.961 mph (Arie Luyendyk, 1998)
Most career wins: 4 (A.J. Foyt - '61, '64, '67, '77; Al Unser - '70, '71, '78, '87; Rick Mears - '79, '84, '88, '91)
Largest margin of victory: 13 min., 8.4 sec. (Jules Goux over Spencer Wishart, 1913)
Closest margin of victory: 0.043 of a second (Al Unser Jr. over Scott Goodyear, 1992)
Youngest winner: 22 years, 80 days (Troy Ruttman, 1952)
Oldest winner: 47 years, 360 days (Al Unser, 1987)
Most career starts: 35 (AJ Foyt, 1958-92, consecutive)
Fewest starters, single race: 21 (1916)
Most starters, single race: 42 (1933)
Most laps led, single race: 198 (Billy Arnold, 1930)
Most laps led without winning, single race: 196 (Ralph DePalma, 1912)
Most laps led without winning, career: 426 (Michael Andretti)
Most times leading without winning, single race: 10 (Rodger Ward, 1960)
Most races led without winning, career: 9 (Rex Mays)
Most lead changes, single race: 29 (1960)
Fewest lead changes, single race: 1 (1930)
Most cars running at finish: 26 (1911)
Fewest cars running at finish: 7 (1966)
Interesting Indy 500 Facts and Figures
The average finishing position for the IndyCar Series points leader at the Indy 500 is 17th since 1996. Dan Wheldon is the current points leader, but has finished in the top 10 only twice in his previous nine trips to the Brickyard. One of those times was last year when, entering the start as the points leader, he finished third.
Three of the previous nine Indy 500 winners finished 20th or worse in their last race prior to the event. Another three of the last nine winners didn't even race in the event prior to the 500.
The first Indy 500 in 1911 was the first long-distance auto race on a closed course or track. Ray Harround won the race in six hours, 42 minutes and eight seconds. Forty cars started and a still-record 26 cars finished.
The starting field was limited to 33 drivers in 1912. To ensure safety for the drivers and onlookers, it was determined that 400 feet was needed for each car. There are about 13,200 feet in 2.5 miles, leaving room for exactly 33 cars.
The tradition of drinking milk in the winner's circle originated in 1936 when race winner Louis Meyer was photographed drinking his favorite beverage - buttermilk - after the victory. Hoping to "set a good example for the kids", an executive of the Milk Foundation (now the American Dairy Assoc.) saw the picture and made sure that every year after that the winner had a bottle of milk.
Peanuts have been considered bad luck at the 500 since the 1940's when peanut shells were found in the seat of a crashed car. Green cars are also considered taboo, and it is also considered bad luck to enter and exit the race car from the same side, and you won't see many green cars in the race.
The winner of the Indy 500 is awarded the Borg-Warner Trophy. The trophy was created in 1935 for $10,000 and today is valued at more than $1 million. An etching of the winner's face it added to the sterling silver trophy, and presently there are 90 faces on it (there were two instances, in 1924 and 1941 where one driver started a race and another finished it).
In 89 races, there has never been a driver with the last name of Smith in the Indy 500.
Indy cars accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in less than four seconds, and get up near 240 mph. At that 238 mph, drivers cover the size of a football field per second (350 feet) and if a driver blinks his eyes he missed 50 feet of track.
The 3.5-liter, methanol-powered engines of the IRL produce more than 675 horsepower, and each of the eight pistons travels nearly one mile up and down every minute.
The total area of all four tires in contact with the track surface at any given moment is roughly one square foot - or about the size of a piece of notebook paper.
The tread of racing tires approaches the temperature of boiling water (212 degree Fahrenheit). At those temperatures, the tread actually becomes a tar-like consistency to help the tires adhere to the track.
IRL drivers endure G-forces equal to nearly four times the weight of gravity while going through turns. That is nearly the same force as a space shuttle leaving a launching pad.