500 facts about the Indy 500 

It really is "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing"

click to enlarge James Hinchcliffe, the man who's taken the pole for the 100th running of the Indy 500. - INDYCAR
  • James Hinchcliffe, the man who's taken the pole for the 100th running of the Indy 500.
  • IndyCar

Here's the problem with any undertaking that purports to include as much material as we've tried to wedge into these pages: something will always be missing.

Your favorite factoid or bit o' trivia may have been passed by as we assembled this behemoth of a list. When you think about it, we could have built 500 Facts around just one race if we'd wanted to, but we tried to give an overview of the size and scope of the Indy 500 — and the drama and the danger, too.

This story, told the way we chose to tell it, would not have been possible without Nora Spitznogle's charming 100-day countdown to the 100th 500 on nuvo.net or the reporting provided over the years by Lori Lovely. Interviews with folks from Jim Nabors to A.J. Foyt, culled from our personal archives of material broadcast on WIBC several years ago, also provided some first-person accounts of what happened at Indy.

Lastly, a huge thank-you must be extended to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and historian Donald Davidson. From providing info, tidbits and fact-checks, the track and Mr. Davidson really helped make this thing as robust as we could make it for a landmark event as big as the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Ladies and gentlemen — start your engines.

PART 1: Facts and stats

The birth of IMS: Before the 500

The track itself — and Tom Carnegie, too

All-time records

The trophies

Famous firsts

Leading the race

Lousy weather

PART 2: The Race Itself

From the Marmon Wasp to WW1

After the "Great War"

The Rickenbacker era

The Hulman/George era with Wilbur Shaw

The beginning of the Hulman/George era under USAC

The '60s

The '70s

The '80s and '90s

The mid-'90s through today

PART 3: Other traditions and treats


Pop culture

Cold milk and other eats and drinks

Before the green flag flies: Traditions and tickets

The race today

Oh, and just in case you somehow missed it: a rookie won the 100th Indy 500.


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About The Author

Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck has been writing for NUVO (as well as several other Indiana publications) for nearly 20 years while moonlighting as a radio host. He became Managing Editor of NUVO in 2013. He's authored four books and also reports for WISH-TV's Boomer TV program.

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