Indiana is a landlocked state in America’s heartland. It is a quiet, sleepy place full of great people. Unfortunately for the Indiana natives, this hidden gem gets unnoticed for 11 months of the year. Illinois, Michigan and Ohio take the attention. Add all that to a long, harsh winter and, understandably, most ordinary folks ignore this place. That is, except for one group of people. To race fans, Indiana is the Mecca in which they worship. The 200mph altar is where petrolheads make their pilgrimage. Every Spring, Indiana waves goodbye to the Winter, and it welcomes the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The Indianapolis 500 is one of the oldest, most famous races in the world. Sine 1911, they’ve raced around the hallowed walls to the delight of fans from around the world. For one month, the eyes of the racing world stay glued to the state of Indiana. One can ignore Indiana for 11 months; however, when the cars’ noise hits, the track begins to reverberate, no one can forget Indy in May. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen; it’s Indy 500 season.
The Greatest Show on Earth
From the driver introductions, the singing of ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ and the throngs of fans making their way through the turnstiles, Indy 500 race day is special before the green flag waves. It is the biggest single-day sporting event globally; half a million people pack into the grandstands and infield to witness history. The tradition, the ceremony and spectacle make the race into an event that transcends sports. Quite simply, the Indy 500 is the biggest race in the world. There is something dangerously primal about watching a car weave past the concrete at an average speed of 215 mph—all in the pursuit of racing immortality. Hill, Stewart, Clark, Rutherford, Andretti, Fittipaldi, Villeneuve, Montoya, Wheldon and Castroneves are some of the fabled names who have their faces on the Borg-Warner trophy.
The tradition, the celebration of history and the storied racers that have come before them is unparalleled across all sports. After last year’s race got held without fans, and in August, the first authentic 500 under Penske management promises to be something special. Already, the drivers are out promoting the race and engaging with the fans from Indiana.
The Wheel to Wheel Action Is Unrivalled
If you are after thrilling motorsports action, the 500 is the only race to watch. The cars whizz by in a blur of noise and colour. The average speed is 215mph, and they follow each other nose-to-tail in the slipstream. To pass someone requires enormous bravery and skill as drivers must thread the needle as they move off the racing line and up alongside the concrete to overtake their rivals. With the Indycar’s all sporting the low downforce oval package, the cars spend most of the race grouped in packs. The drivers dance their cars on an asphalt knife-edge. It is the ultimate test of skill and bravery. Nothing comes close to seeing Alexander Rossi move to the outside and overtake three cars in one action.
Don’t Forget About the Indy Road Course
The Indianapolis Grand Prix is the first event of the month. The oft-forgotten about race forms a vital part of the festivities. The track that hosted F1 between 2000 and 2007 is an entirely different test for teams and drivers. The slow infield complex is a stark contrast to the super-speedway layout for the 500. It is a race that tests the drivers’ endurance as well as a teams strategy. It is a technical challenge that must get mastered. In 2019, Simon Pagenaud won the Indy GP to set up a clean sweep as he subsequently took pole and won the Indy 500. A win in this race can build significant momentum; the race can’t get ignored.
This Year’s Entry List Is Elite
Unless something dramatic happens in qualifying, this year’s field is one of the very best in Indy 500 history. Six-time Indycar champion Scott Dixon is the headline name. Former Indy 500 winners Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya return for another battle with the Brickyard. Then there is the current batch of established racers. Alex Rossi is desperate to add another race win to his sole triumph in 2016. Penske’s Simon Pagenaud is under pressure to keep his drive in 2022; a strong performance this month could save him. His teammate Will Power emerged victorious in 2018; after conquering his oval fear, Power is hungry for more.
Finally, Indycar’s young guns are also fighting for glory. Mclaren’s Pato O’Ward is finally a race winner; the Mexican took a stunning win in Texas, and his Mclaren looked hooked up on the oval at Texas Motor Speedway. Colton Herta is already a race-winner this year, plus his dad is now his race engineer. Bryan Herta masterminded Dan Wheldon’s win in 2011 as well as Alex Rossi’s win in 2016. Add those drivers to the likes of Josef Newgarden (former two-time champion), Alex Palou ( race-winner in 2021), Takuma Sato ( twice a 500 winner), and the ingredients are there for a great month of racing.
The Final Line
The location is unique; the track is historically special, it is a 100-year monument to the pursuit of speed, and finally, the grid boasts a level of talent we’ve rarely seen. From veterans to champions and the young guns, the month of May is ready to entertain millions of fans worldwide. Strap yourselves in; the three-week extravaganza in Indiana is here.