INDY 500 is celebrating its 101st race this year and as this event is heralded as the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ we felt it only right that we take a look at how the Indianapolis 500 came to be.
Carl Fisher was the brains behind it all, initially intending to offer manufacturers a place to test their new cars’ top speeds, giving spectators a chance to see new models being pitted against each other. This then evolved into long, yearly races that over time would grow to become the go-to event for some of the world’s priciest cars.
The inaugural race was held in 1911 and was between 40 drivers who covered 500 miles in total over the course of 200 laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Back in the day, mechanics rode alongside the drivers to help with car maintenance and keep an eye out for other racers. This practice ended after the Second World War and resulted in lighter, more aerodynamic vehicles.
Despite it being of next to no use because the track surface caused it to vibrate intensely, Ray Harroun was the first to use a rear-view mirror in an automobile and went on to win the 1911 Indy 500 in his single seat vehicle. In 1916 the race was shortened to just 300 miles with 21 cars in an attempt to keep the crowd’s attention from fading, but the traditional set up returned as of 1919.
Fernando Alonso at Indy 500
This year is Fernando Alonso’s first time at the Indy 500 and whilst oval racing is new to him, he is not afraid to take on the challenge. He will be in a McLaren-entered car and Alonso could drive McLaren’s team to victory for a third time since they previously won with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and 1976.
For the 14th time, a Corvette will act as the official pace car and for 2017 we will see a Corvette Grand Sport leading the drivers to the green flag. The Indy 500 is in the same league as the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours, making at a high point of the global motorsport calendar; the Indy 500’s 101st Running is on Sunday, May 28th.