Chicago Auto Show Blog

Racing's Greatest Weekend

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Indy-2016-500Memorial Day, time to sit back, enjoy the smell of new-mown grass, remember those who fought so hard to protect our freedoms, throw some encased meat onto the grill and prepare for the greatest racing weekend of the year.

Of course Formula 1 kicks off the schedule with the Grand Prix of Monaco on Sunday morning and NASCAR wraps up the day with the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte. This year, ALL eyes are on Indianapolis for the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

For the first time in history the 500 is a complete sellout. On Tuesday, officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced that all suites, reserved seating and infield general admission tickets for the 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil are sold out. 

"There's no event in the world like the Indy 500," said Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles. "This sellout is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the thrilling racing of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the bright future for both."

While the 100th running should be a draw for racing fans alone, the competition on the track couldn't be tighter. This past Sunday, qualifying provided a glimpse into what we will see in the 500 with an epic, "it could only happen at Indy" story. 

James Hinchcliffe put together a scintillating four-lap run of 230.760 mph in the Fast Nine Shootout to claim the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000 prize for earning the pole position and right to lead the 33-car field to the green flag on May 29.

Hinchcliffe's No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda edged Josef Newgarden's No. 21 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet for the honor by a mere 0.0344 of a second over the 10-mile run. Try and wrap your head around that -- Over 10 miles at more than 230 miles per hour, Hinchcliff edged Newgarden by .03444 of a second.

Add to that the backstory. Hinch, who nearly lost his life in a practice crash at Indy last year, drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Sam, a former IndyCar driver himself, was paralyzed in a crash in a practice 16 years ago. Topping it off, Hinchcliff was the final qualifier of the day.

If you've never been there, it's hard to comprehend the magnitude of the event. At least 350,000 people are expected to attend this Sunday. Here are a few interesting Indy 500 attendance statistics courtesy of the Indianapolis Star:

  • It's 59 percent of the entire population of the state of Wyoming.
  • More people than attended the last four Super Bowls - combined.
  • Nearly twice as many people as attended the record-breaking 2015 Kentucky Derby.
  • Over 100,000 people more than attended all the games of the 2015 World Series.
  • More than double the attendance of the Daytona 500.
  • Finally, on Sunday, 1 out of every 1,000 people in the U.S. will be at the Indy 500.

Those lucky enough to have tickets are destined to witness racing history. For the rest of us, fire up the flat screen, pull the cooler close and tune in to ABC on Sunday. Pre-race starts at 10 a.m. Central Time with the green flag flying shortly after 11 a.m.


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