The Greatest Spectacle in Racing turns 100

In 1911, Ray Harroun, a 32-year-old racing driver from Pennsylvania, wheeled his scorching-yellow Marmon “Wasp” to victory in the inaugural Indy 500. This Sunday, the green flag will once again fly in Indianapolis, marking the 100th running of the legendary racing event. Some of the best drivers in the world will go wheel to wheel in a high-speed showdown for fame and glory, each vying for the checkered in a bid to secure millions in winnings and a spot in the history books.

The Indy 500 is the oval-shaped circlet in the Triple Crown of Motorsport, joining the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix as one of the most prestigious auto racing competitions in the world. As many as 300,000 spectators will witness the event unfold in person, with several million more tuning in to watch on television and online.

We’ve got the basics on this year’s event right here, including info on the track, the cars, and the competitors, plus the schedule and where to watch. Read on for more.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Indianapolis 500.

The Track

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The Indy 500 is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana. Also known as the “Brickyard,” the Speedway was originally built in 1909, and has hosted a variety of series, including Formula 1, NASCAR, and MotoGP. With seating for up to 257,325 spectators, plus space for another 50,000 in the infield, it’s the highest-capacity sports venue in the world.

Competitors will tackle a 2.5-mile asphalt oval, maximizing speed against 9.2-degree banking along each of the track’s four turns. The race will consist of 200 laps, covering 500 miles in total. The grid will be eleven rows deep and three abreast for 33 cars total.

In the event of rain, the race will be postponed due to safety concerns, commencing only when conditions are deemed dry enough to race.

The Cars

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An “IndyCar” is essentially a single-seat, open-cockpit, open-wheel formula car. The chassis comes from Dallara, and is made from carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core. Motivation is derived from a twin-turbo 2.2-liter V-6 (teams can choose between units from either Chevrolet or Honda), with upwards of 700 horsepower fed to the rear wheels. Redline is set at 12,000 rpm. Firestone provides the tires, with 11-inch wide rubber in front, and 15-inch wide rubber in back.

The Competitors

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James Hinchcliffe

Without a doubt, the biggest pre-race story this year is the man leading the pack. Recovering from a near-fatal accident during practice last year, Canadian James Hinchcliffe will start at pole position for 2016 after averaging 230.760 mph in qualifying.

Josef Newgarden

Second on the grid is Josef Newgarden, succumbing to Hinchcliffe by a slim 0.06-mph margin. This will be the American’s fifth start at the Indy 500, and his first from the front row.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Rounding out the front-runners is Ryan Hunter-Reay, another American. Hunter-Reay certainly has the skills needed to walk away with victory, as evidenced by his win in 2014.

Scott Dixon

Even though he’s starting way back in 14th, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon still brings loads of racing experience under his helmet, with a resume that includes sports cars and CART, not to mention victory at the Indy 500 in 2008.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya is a two-time 500 winner, taking top honors at the Brickyard last year and in 2000. Unfortunately, a spot of bad luck in qualifying (a trash bag ruined his aero and nearly put him in the wall) means he’s starting from 17th on the grid for 2016. Still, considering Montoya won from 15th in 2015, odds are he’ll still be at the front.

Where To Watch And The Schedule

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Where To Watch

The 100th Indy 500 will air this Sunday, May 29th, on ABC at 11 AM EST. You’ll also be able to livestream the event on WatchESPN here, and IndyCar Race Control here.

The Schedule

Note: all times are local.

Sunday, May 29th

11:38 AM: Driver introductions
11:52 AM: “America the Beautiful” – performed by Military Trio with Purdue Band
11:54 AM: Military Speech – General Anderson
11:55 AM: Presentation of Colors
11:56 AM: Invocation – Archbishop of Indianapolis
11:57 AM: “Taps”
11:58 AM: “God Bless America”
12:01 PM: “National Anthem” – performed by Darius Rucker
12:03 PM: Military flyover
12:12 PM: “Back Home Again in Indiana” – performed by Josh Kaufman and ICC
12:14 PM: “Drivers Start Your Engines”
12:19 PM: Indy 500 race begins

Jonathan Lopez
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