This weekend, a month’s worth of hard work, celebration and appreciation comes to fruition with the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday (11 a.m. ET on NBC).
This is more than just a race. It’s an event that has defined our city for more than a century.
That’s why nearly 1,000 homes were registered for the 500 Spectacle of Homes this month as race fans designed their yard or homes in race-themed fashion to exemplify the spirit of this race and celebrate what it means to our community.
That’s why race fans have been coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all May long for the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice and qualifying for the Indy 500.
That’s why you will see people all throughout our community decked out in their best checkered flag gear from now through Sunday as everyone shows their anticipation and excitement for our favorite day of the year.
Since 1911, the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race has been an integral part of our community. It traces back to the days of people hopping on the train at Union Station and riding five miles outside of Indianapolis to see the racetrack Carl Fisher built as an automotive testing ground.
As the years went by, race fans continued to flock to what became the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road as speed records were broken and the Snake Pit became lore.
Each time Hoosiers visited the Racing Capital of the World, they witnessed so many incredible moments, traditions and heroes of the Indy 500. They saw drivers like A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. They heard Jim Nabors sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” and saw Tony Hulman give the command to start engines.
Decades in the making, one couldn’t have imagined the names they were watching and the moments they were cheering would hold the level of magnitude they do today.
Now, this modern-day sports facility just off the roundabout is the largest sports seating facility in the world and hosts the largest single-day sporting event in the world.
This weekend, fans will cheer on athletes like Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Takuma Sato and so many more as they marvel at their ability to defy everything and manhandle a machine at 220 mph. They’ll also cheer on Jim Cornelison when he performs “Back Home Again in Indiana” and Roger Penske when he gives the command to start engines.
These are the moments, traditions and heroes of the Indianapolis 500 today that we will carry with us for decades to come and look back on with fond memories. This is modern history. And it all happens as the Indianapolis 500 returns to its rightful May date, 110 years to the day of that first 500-Mile race.
So this weekend, while you’re sporting your best checkered flag or racing attire, attending Miller Lite Carb Day at IMS on Friday, supporting your favorite local business in Indianapolis or the Town of Speedway, or attending the race itself, remember the history and community you are embracing.
Without generations of support, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” would be nothing like it is today. Without the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be nothing.
Because this is the place “Where Tradition Never Stops.”
Zach Horrall is a content producer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. A graduate of Butler University, Zach creates written, video, social and other digital content for the Racing Capital of the World and for North America’s premiere open-wheel series that tell the history of the 112-year-old facility in new, modern and exciting ways.
Follow him on Twitter: @ZHorrall and LinkedIn: @ZachHorrall