Written by James Leyva
Indianapolis, IN — It’s known around the world as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the time has come once again for the Indianapolis 500. Every memorial weekend over 500,000 fans and one billion more tune in to watch thirty-three race car drivers compete in a grueling 500 miles, 200 laps on a 2.5-mile track at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 looks to add another chapter in this historic race, there will be drama, excitement, and emotion.
The drama begins with all drivers preparing for this race with each racer having to make more adjustments in their car than ever before. One of the biggest changes in this race is in the bodywork design on the cars. Every Indy Car front wing plate & endplates are brand new, the underwing points to the rear wheel and it’s smaller than last year model. This is to help reduce downforce on the car which leads to less traction on the race track.
However, the issue with this change is the airflow around the car. If a driver has bad air it means they are getting wind under their car, it becomes less stable and affects their handling. Every racer will have to do a little more to maintain handling of the car especially when the cars are right next to each other. The weather will have impact on the drivers as well. 2012 marked the hottest Indianapolis 500 race ever with temperatures reaching 91 degrees. This year could be even hotter as the forecast for Sunday’s race will be in the 90’s as well. If the track gets really hot it could wear out the tires quicker and that’s something to watch in this race.
In Speedway, Indianapolis, the excitement always builds up leading to race day, as fans and media come from all across the world to be part of this event. The weekend filled with concerts, food, parties, and people camping out makes this event unlike any other. Fans who come in from 16th street and Georgetown road will be entering the famous section of auto-racing. The Coke lot area is where all the campers come to camp and enjoy outdoors before the race starts. This year hopes to set a new record of most people to ever attend the Indianapolis 500, Doug Boles president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had this to say, “One of the good things that came out of the 100th running is momentum around ticket sales and passion the fans have for the Indianapolis 500. Last year’s attendance was the best attendance we’ve had in over a decade at the Indianapolis 500 by a significant number, except for the 100th running. This year we are tracking to be significantly higher than last year. This will be another one of those amazing Indianapolis 500 crowds.”
The emotion of this race will be high and effective as least several former Champions will be competing again in this race, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and last year champion Takuma Sato. All these drivers are looking to add another title to their careers. Helio Castroneves has won three Indy 500’s, if he wins one more he would join, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to ever win four Indy 500’s.
This will be emotional for race fans, and for Danica Patrick as she prepares for her final Indianapolis 500. Danica Patrick the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, 2005 Indy Rookie of the year and the only woman to win an Indy race will be retiring after this race. “I’m just going to drive like I normally drive; whatever happens, happens.” Race fans are hoping she finishes 1st this time and finishes her career off into the sunset with a victory. Her teammate Ed Carpenter, racer and owner of Ed Carpenter Racing, won the pole position for the third time and is still looking to get his first career win in the Indianapolis 500.
This race seems to have all the elements to be a special one. Carpenter racing from the pole, Takuma returning champion, Castroneves chasing history, Danica retiring, and the rest of the driver’s looking to make their own history in this race. The 102nd Indianapolis 500 race will begin on Sunday, May 27th at 12:19 eastern time on ABC, ESPN app and Watch ESPN app.