The Indianapolis 500 is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5 mile oval track. The race consists of 200 laps, run counterclockwise around the circuit, for a distance of 500 miles. The race is always held on Memorial Day weekend. This year the race will be Sunday May 25th.
Fans come from around the world to the two-week long event. Practice and qualifying occur the week before the race with the pole position being awarded on Sunday the 18th this year. Community events happen throughout the week with fan interaction a big part of the festival. Many fans camp or stay in RVs on the grounds during the week or on race weekend. The track opens at 5:30 am on race day and the race is scheduled to begin at 12:12 pm.
The race is the most prestigious event of the Indy Car calendar, and one of the oldest and most prestigious automobile races. It has been considered to be the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world. In addition, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself is regarded as the largest sporting facility in terms of capacity. The total purse exceeded $12 million in 2013, with over $2.3 million awarded to the winner, making it one of the richest cash prize funds in sports.
A full field consists of 33 starters, aligned in a starting grid of eleven rows of three cars apiece. The event is contested by Indy Cars, open cockpit, open wheel, purpose-built race cars. All entrants currently utilize 2.2 L V6 turbocharged engines, which produce a range of 550–700 horsepower.
The winner traditionally chugs a bottle of milk in victory lane. This tradition began when Louis Myers requested a glass of buttermilk after winning his second Indy 500 race in 1933. After winning his third title in 1936, he requested another glass but instead received a bottle. He was captured by a photographer in the act of swigging from the bottle while holding up three fingers to signify the third win. A local dairy company executive recognized the marketing opportunity in the image and, being unaware Meyer was drinking buttermilk, offered a bottle of milk to the winners of future races. Milk has been presented each year since then apart from 1947 to 1955. Modern drivers are offered a choice of whole, 2%, and skim.
This is a great opportunity to bring the family for a fun packed weekend. There are tickets still available for most events at http://secure.brickyard.com/Tickets/Indianapolis500.aspx.