On August 19, 1909, the first race was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, now the home of the world’s most famous motor racing competition, the Indianapolis 500. Here are 5 stunning facts you didn’t know about the Indianapolis 500.
It's The Largest Sporting Event In The World If you're an American, you may think that something like the Superbowl is largest viewed sporting event. Or, if you're European, you may believe that the Fifa World Cup is the most watched. Either way, both a wrong, as the Indy 500 is actually the world's largest sporting event. The Indy 500 is "the world's largest single-day spectator sporting event." It draws anywhere between 300,000 to a million spectators view this competition. That isn’t much of a surprise since these race cars are moving at more than 200 mph.
The Winners Celebrate With Milk The tradition of winners drinking milk after a race began in 1936 when Louis Meyer, who won the 500 three times, drank buttermilk in Victory Lane. The practice was discontinued from 1947 until 1955 and began again in 1956. It’s such a part of the Indy 500 culture that winners who refuse milk or drink something else are mocked, berated, and even bullied.
Kissing the Bricks Has Become a Tradition The Indy 500 has its fair share of strange traditions. Of them all, though, you may not be aware of the common act of 'kissing the bricks' on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After winning the Indy 500, drivers not only get milk, a trophy, and a chance to meet the President, but they also get to smooch some pavement. Driver Dale Jarrett began the tradition of kissing the bricks in 1996 to pay tribute to the famed speedway’s history, and it has continued to the present day.
The Indy 500 Has Few Female Drivers
During its long history, only eleven women have driven in the Indy 500 with the first being Janet Guthrie in 1977. Danica Patrick holds the highest record as a female driver by winning an IndyCar Series race. Patrick holds the highest finish record by a female driver in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500.
Fatalities at the Indy 500 Included a Pilot More than 70 people have died in accidents at the speedway, including 58 while practicing, qualifying, and racing. A motorcycle rider, members of the pit crews, spectators, and others died in addition. Probably the most unusual death was that of a test pilot during World War I when the track was used as a landing strip.