This year, the world of motorcar racing celebrates a very special centennial. On Sunday, May 29th, 2011 the Indianapolis 500 will take place. The first time this 500 mile race was held was on Memorial Day, May 30th, 1911.
Though 100 years have passed since the first Indy 500, the 2011 edition marks only the 95th race. Races were not contested during World War I and World War II. So, this is the hundredth anniversary of the race by year. However, the hundredth actual race is scheduled to take place in 2016.
The Indy is considered one of the three most important events in motorsports. It is part of what is known, informally, as the Triple Crown of Motorsport, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Le Mans, an endurance race lasting 24 hours.
The Indy 500 is run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in, logically enough, Speedway, Indiana in the United States. It is a 500 mile automobile race taking place on a track. The Le Mans, which takes place in Le Mans France, is run on a track and public thoroughfares. The Monaco Grand Prix is run entirely on city streets. It takes place in Monte Carlo and La Condamine, two areas within the Principality of Monte Carlo, a tiny country, located on the French Riviera.
The Indy 500 is raced on a two and a half mile track. As it is a 500 mile race, 200 laps must be completed. Time to complete the race depends on track conditions. The fastest Indianapolis 500 took place in 1990 when Arie Luyendyk of the Netherlands won in two hours and 41 minutes. His average speed was approximately 186 miles an hour.
The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on a circuit of approximately 162 miles. The race includes passing though a tunnel. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a full day affair. The Le Mans differs from the Indy 500 and Monaco in that, since it is raced for a fixed time, the goal is to cover the most miles. Both the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix take place over fixed distances and are contested for time.
The Indianapolis 500 is raced in open wheel cars. Typically, these vehicles have a one seat cockpit, no roof and wheels which sit outside the car’s body.
The Indy 500 is part of the IZOD IndyCar Series, sanctioned by IndyCar. IndyCar also sanctions two other racing series, which form The Road to Indy, previously known as the Indy Racing League. Those series are the Firestone Indy Lights and the U.S. F2000 National Championships. IndyCar is a sanctioning body based in the United States.
For this year’s Indianapolis 500, the race will begin with the green flag going down at 12 noon Eastern Time and be covered and aired, in the United States, by ABC Sports. Last year’s race was won by Dario Franchitti.
Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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