Wednesday 11 May 2011

Indianapolis 500 – 100th Anniversary

There are many automotive racing milestones this year, but without a doubt, the most important is probably the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500. It also most of the most widely followed sporting events on the planet, so this birthday is doubly important.

That first race was won by Ray Harroun, driving a Marmon Model 32 “Wasp”. His average speed was 74.6 mph (120 kph).

Since that first Indy 500, the race has been won by drivers like Ralph De Palma, Jimmy Murphy, Tommy Milton, Louis Meyer, Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Bill Vukovich, Roger Ward, A.J. Foyt, Jim Clark, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Mark Donohue, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Jacques Villeneuve, Hélio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti … and the race speeds have gone up as high as 236 mph (379 kph!)

The most successful racers have been A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with 4 wins each; the most successful team is by far Penske Racing with 15 victories, their first in 1972 and their most recent in 2009.

The Indy 500 has always been held in the last weekend in May, and has been held every year except the war years of 1917 and 1918, and 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945.

This year, the Indianapolis 500 is held on the same day as another famous race, the Grand Prix de Monaco … lots of stimulation in one day for motorsports fans!

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