Checkered Flags and Fast Cars

Happy (almost) May! This month is a big deal in our hometown of Indianapolis. The city becomes more black and white by the day: with checkered flags, that is. It’s the month of the Indianapolis 500. The greatest spectacle in racing.

IMS_start:finish line

Here are some fun facts, courtesy of, as we gear up for Race Day on Sunday May 26th…

  • Q: What is the searing capacity of the Speedway?
  • A: The Speedway is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 permanent seats.
  • Q: When did the Speedway first open?
  • A: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 as a 2.5-mile oval track after investment and leadership by founders Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler.
  • Q. How big is the Speedway property?
    A. The Speedway property encompasses 1,025 acres in northwest Indianapolis, including the track, Administration Building, Brickyard Crossing Golf Course and various parking areas.
  • Q. How long is the oval track at the Speedway?
    A. 2.5 miles. The track has four distinct turns and straightaways, a layout unchanged since the facility opened in 1909. The front and back straightaways are 5/8ths of a mile each, with the “short chute” straightaways between Turns 1 and 2 and Turns 3 and 4 at 1/8th of a mile each. Each of the four turns is 1/4th of a mile long.
Indy Motor Speedway
  • Q. How long is the road course at the Speedway?
  • A. 2.621 miles. The track has 16 turns (10 left, six right) in a layout built in 2007-08 for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race in September 2008. The road course incorporates most of the front straightaway of the famed oval before entering the infield section of the circuit.
  • Q. Was the Indianapolis 500 the first race at the Speedway?
  • A. No. The first competitive event to take place at the facility actually was a gas-filled balloon race June 5, 1909. The first land-based vehicle race was a motorcycle event Aug. 14, 1909. The first automobile race at the Speedway took place Aug. 19, 1909.

Like any big event, there are usually several others leading up to the one. We kick things off this weekend with the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon; the largest mini-marathon in the nation. For the past 11 years the marathon has sold out with 35,000 participants of both walkers and runners. Followed by the traditional Post Race Party, it’s a big day in Indy filled with music, food, cheering, smiles and proud steps across the finish line.

IMS Mini Marathon

But the May fun doesn’t end there. There is Kid’s Day, the Rookie Run, Breakfast at the Brickyard, Community Day,  Memorial Service and the night before the race: the Snakepit Ball where you are sure to be dancing next to big names in Hollywood!

Since April showers bring May flowers, this month is one of the prettiest in the city (with the exception of the in-field of the Speedway after the Race)!