500 facts: lousy weather 

Hot, cold and rainy

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165. The hottest race day clocked in at 92 degrees in 1937, but the 1953 Indy 500 is often called the "Hottest 500." 

As Nora Spitznogle wrote for NUVO:

Carl Scarborough started the Indianapolis 500 on the seventh row.

On lap 69 he spun to avoid hitting Tony Bettenhausen. He was feeling poorly so he made his way back to the pits to be replaced by relief driver, Bob Scott — Bob's own car was out of the race due to mechanical difficulties. He drove the rest of the race for Carl and finished in twelfth place.

Carl was taken to the Speedway's hospital, where his temperature was recorded at 104 degrees. Physicians there unsuccessfully performed open-heart massage before Scarborough was pronounced dead. 

The temperature was 91 degrees in Indianapolis that day and track temperatures reached 130 degrees. Due to the extreme heat, several drivers required relief drivers, and some relief drivers even required additional relief. Nine drivers were treated for heat-related illness. Pat Flaherty suffered minor injuries when he fainted and crashed into a wall later in the race.

Winner Bill Vukovich, as well as second-place finisher Art Cross, both ran the full 500 miles solo.

Carl Scarborough's body was sent to Michigan, where funeral services were held with burial in Perry Mount Park, in Pontiac, Michigan on June 3, 1953.

166. The coldest 500 was in 1992.

The high temp that day? 58, according to WTHR.com.

167. The average high for race day: a lovely 76.

That's according to the folks at FOX59.

168. The 1973 race was the "shortest 500."

332.5 miles were complete when the rains came. (More on that year later. Oy.)

169. Including '73, the race has been shortened seven times by rain.

Indianapolismotorspeedway.com has the official list:

• 1926: 160 laps (400 miles)

• 1950: 138 laps (345 miles)

• 1973: 133 laps (332.5 miles)

• 1975: 174 laps (435 miles)

• 1976: 102 laps (255 miles)

• 2004: 180 laps (450 miles)

• 2007: 166 laps (415 miles)

170. There have only been three complete washouts — that's nary a green flag — on race day.

In 1915, the race was set for the Saturday before Memorial Day, but the track was drenched from downpours the day before. Sunday runnings were a no-no at the time, so the race ran in full on Monday, May 31. In 1986, the race was rained out on both Sunday, May 25 and Memorial Day, so officials pushed the race until the following Saturday. The 1997 race never got underway on Sunday, May 25, lasted for only 15 laps on Monday and finally finished surrounded by thinly-populated grandstands on Tuesday.

171. There have been two partial postponements.

1967 saw 18 laps complete on race day with the balance wrapping up the following day. 1973 was simply a mess. A red flag after a lap-one wreck was followed by rain on Monday, May 28; the rains came back before the green flew on Tuesday and weather ultimately shortened the race on Wednesday.

172. The race was run completely in 1998, although nearly every meteorologist in town predicted it wouldn't.

One (former) local weatherman claimed that chances for a full race that day were as "high as winning the Powerball."

173. The race has been stopped four times and resumed the same day due to precip.

Stoppages occurred two times in each of the 1926, 2004 and 2007 races, and once in 2001.

174. The 2004 race day saw the most rain.

3.8 inches, to be precise.

175. And an f-2 tornado, too.

The twister that hit parts of Indy didn't clip the track, but the victory celebration was moved inside.

176. The 1940 race was the only full 500 to run in the rain.

The last 50 laps were completed in precip — all under caution.

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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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