In addition to being one of the oldest auto racing events in existence, the Indianapolis 500 is also one of the most respected. The 33-car race is appropriately held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana each year and because it attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators, the event is highly publicized by media outlets around the world.
On May 30, 1911, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 was won by Ray Harroun. After several attempts to attract spectators to the speedway earlier on, executives chose to concentrate on one large event that would hopefully put them on the road to success. And, that it did. Since that time, the Indy 500 has been held annually and the speedway has grown to accommodate the swarm of fans that visit each year. In addition to the permanent seats, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway can house even more fans in the infield.
Just incase you are wondering, it also carries one of the largest purses in all of racing. The winner of the inaugural race, which was held nearly a century ago, accepted his $10,000 share of a purse that totaled approximately $25,000. Today, the cars are faster, the coverage is greater and the purse is much larger.
As one can imagine, the history of the Indy 500 winners is just as rich as how the race began. Of all competitors to race in the annual competition, only three can claim a quartet of Indy 500 wins. Among them, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Each of these impressive competitors have walked away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with four Indianapolis 500 victories under their belt.
Now that you know how the Indy 500 came to be, it’s important to know a little about the track that welcomes the drivers, teams and their adoring race fans year after year. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally constructed with a brick surface, which was gradually changed to asphalt. Although much of the original surface remains below the current asphalt, the only visible bricks are those that can clearly be seen at the starting line. For those who are familiar with the Brickyard 400, a race on the NASCAR circuit, the winning team can be seen ‘kissing the bricks’ every year as a celebration of their victory.