(Immerse yourself in all the grandeur, the spectacle and the prestige that surrounds the greatest race in the world. Witness all the hype, the excitement and the anticipation surrounding one of the most competitive fields of drivers in the world’s greatest race this year. Remember all the patriotism, the nationalism and the glamour involved in the celebration that is the Indianapolis 500, the single biggest one-day sporting event in the world, writes our IndyCar contributor, Matt Lennon. Let’s have a read of his preview…)
The Indy 500 is the one race every driver wants to compete in, and win. Registering your name and likeness on the famed Borg-Warner trophy immortalises you among the very best to ever turn a lap at this fabled speedway. So many have tried, few have succeeded, and no matter what, to tame “The Brickyard” and make it your own remains the single greatest accomplishment a racer can aspire to.
Four previous winners (presuming they qualify of course) will be among the 33 drivers lining up in the traditional rows of three come 1pm on Sunday May 30, 2010. For the first time in history, as many as five women (Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher, Simona De Silvestro & Ana Beatriz) could be among the starters, potentially the highest number ever.
In 1945, the National Bank of Indiana asked Tony Hulman for an approximation of the Indianapolis 500 crowd attendance figures when loaning him the estimated $700,000 to buy the Speedway. The bank never got their figures and Hulman paid off the loan. This secret has lived on since Hulman’s death in 1977 and to this day, no race-day crowd figure is ever officially disclosed. Although the Speedway contains 257,325 permanent seats, media estimates year-by-year generally ranging around the 400,000 mark have been tabled.
Qualifying takes place one week prior to race day, and is always a hotly contested affair. In 93 previous Indy 500 races, pole position has produced the most winners with 20, including the last two (being Helio Castroneves in 2009 and Scott Dixon in 2008). The middle of Row 1 has not produced a winner since Al Unser in 1978, while third on the grid has produced 10 winners, the most recent being Dario Franchitti in 2007.
The Indy 500 has always brought out the best in the community of race-going fans, and with the race held each year during Memorial Day weekend, patriotism is on display everywhere you look in the form of countless miniature American flags and painted red, white and blue faces.
Joining in with the patriotic spirit, my tip for the 2010 Indy 500 is for Australia to register its first winner. I’ll leave it up to you whether you cheer for Ryan Briscoe or Will Power. Hopefully one or the other motors into Victory Lane to drink the fabled milk.