The Famous Indianapolis 500 Is This Sunday

By: 
Jerry Curry, Staff Writer

It’s May in Indiana, and the Greatest Spectacle in Racing happens just 100 miles north of Salem.  It is the Indianapolis 500.

Started in 1911 on the outskirts of Indy, in the small town of Speedway, this annual event draws over 300,000 fans for the biggest show on the planet. Sunday, May 26, is the 108th running of this Memorial Day classic. General admission this year is $55.

Some past race day traditions have faded. An example of this is the release of thousands of multi-color balloons on race day. The release of balloons was stopped because of the concerns of environmental groups.

Traditions that live on are the race’s winner drinking a celebratory bottle of milk, kissing the bricks, carburetor day (carbs are long gone) and singing “Back Home Again in Indiana."

Qualification days have been changed from four days to two.  Most of these traditions date back to the 40’s and 50’s, some even longer.

One thing that has not changed is the need for speed and thirty-three of the fastest cars to grace an oval track.

This year’s top qualification speed was 234.220 miles per hour by Scott McLaughlin in a Penske Chevrolet. In fact, the first eight spots are Chevrolets. The other dominant engine is the Honda.

Gone are the days of the Offenhauser, Novi, Turbine and Ford engines.  Out goes the old, in comes the new.

This year there is only one female in the race and that is Kathrine Legge, British driver, who’s four-lap average qualification speed was 230.092 miles per hour. She drives a Honda and sits on the inside of row 11.

If you can’t drive to Indy to enjoy the race in person, it can be watched live on NBC at 11 a.m. or listen on the radio in Washington County. It can be heard on WSLM stations 1220 AM or 97.7 FM.

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