IndyCar

When is the Indy 500? That question and more are answered about the world’s biggest race

When is the Indy 500? That question and more are answered about the world's biggest race

When is the Indy 500? The 108th edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing will be held May 26 with coverage beginning at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and the green flag dropping around 12:45 p.m.

Josef Newgarden is the race's defending winner. The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion opened the 2024 season with a dominant victory in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will play host to an open test for IndyCar teams April 10-11 and then officially opens for business in May with the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock) on the track's road course.

The 2.5-mile oval will play host to the first practice Tuesday, May 14, beginning the two-week runup to the 108th running of the 500-Mile Race on May 26, 2024.

Here are all the pertinent details to help answer the question of "When is the Indy 500?" and many more (all times are ET and subject to change):

What are the Indy 500 race day start times?

While the official times have yet to be released for 2024, this typically is the race-day schedule for the Indiaanpolis 500:

5 a.m.: Garage opens
6 a.m.: Gates open
6:30 a.m.: Tech inspection
8:15 a.m.: Cars pushed to pit lane
10:30 a.m.: Cars on the starting grid
11:47 a.m.: Driver introductions
12:38 p.m.: Command to start engines
12:45 p.m.: Green flag for the 105th Indy 500

How can I watch the Indy 500 on TV?

The Indy 500 will be shown on NBC. Prerace coverage will begin on Peacock and NBC at 11 a.m. and run through 4 p.m., followed by a postrace show on Peacock. All broadcasts also will be available via streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.

Practice and qualifying for the Indy 500 will be shown on NBC and Peacock.

When is qualifying for the Indy 500?

The 33-car field for the Indy 500 will be set over the May 18-19 weekend. Alex Palou is the defending Indy 500 pole-sitter, setting the fastest four-lap average pole speed in track history at 234.217 mph.

May 18: Practice, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Peacock; Indy 500 qualifying, 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m. Peacock.
May 19: Fast 12 practice, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Peacock; Indy 500 Last Chance practice, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Peacock; Fast 12 qualifying, 2-3 p.m., Peacock; Indy 500 Last Chance and Fast Six qualifying, 3-6 p.m., NBC and Peacock.

When is practice for the Indy 500?

There will be six practice-only days, starting Tuesday, May 14 and continuing through Carb Day on May 24.

May 14: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (oval veterans 9-11:15 a.m.; rookies and refreshers 1-3 p.m.; 3-6 p.m. all drivers), Peacock
May 15: Noon-6 p.m., Peacock
May 16: Noon-6 p.m., Peacock
May 17: Noon-6 p.m., Peacock
May 20: 1-3 p.m., Peacock
May 24: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Peacock

How many fans will attend the Indy 500?

A crowd of roughly 300,000 for the Indy 500, which has been trending toward its first grandstand sellout in eight years.

The Snake Pit festival on race day will draw about 30,000 to see a roster of EDM stars that is headlined by Excision and also includes Dom Dolla, Gryffin, Sullivan King and Timmy Trumpet.

How many laps and how long is the Indy 500?

The race is 500 miles over 200 laps on the 2.5-mile layout.

Depending on the number of yellow flags, the Indy 500 typically takes about 3 hours to complete (give or take 30 minutes).

What is the size, length, width and banking of Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

The track is 2.5 miles and consists of:

  • Front straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile

  • Back straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile

  • Turns: Each a quarter-mile.

  • Short chutes: Each 1/8th of a mile

The track's width is 50 feet on the straightaways and 60 feet in the turns. Its turns are banked at 9 degrees.

IMS sits on 963.4 acres (which includes the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, 315 acres of parking lots and a solar farm). There are 17 grandstands, 26 bridges and six tunnels. The infield is 253 acres.

Why do 33 cars start the Indy 500?

There were 40 cars that started the inaugural 500 Mile Race in 1911.

Afterward, the American Automobile Association's contest board decided the field was too big for the 2.5-mile track.

A formula was created that decreed each car should be entitled to 400 feet when the field was spread around the track. Because 2.5 miles equals 13,200 feet, that allows for 33 cars at 400 feet apiece.

Why does the Indy 500 winner drink milk?

The tradition began in the 1930s when two-time winner Louis Meyer asked for a glass of buttermilk after his second victory (his mother taught him it would refresh him on hot days).

After winning a third time in 1936, a photo of Meyer drinking buttermilk led to a dairy industry executive requesting milk be available annually to the winner.

Since 1956, winners have been given a $10,000 bonus from the Indiana Dairy Association for including milk in their postrace celebration.

What is the winner’s trophy?

The Borg-Warner Trophy has honored the winner since 1936.

Each victor's face is sculpted onto the trophy with a square that includes their name, winning year and average speed. Originally designed to hold 80 winners, two new bases were constructed to add more space (in 1986 and in 2004, which provides capacity through 2034).

The trophy is 5 feet, 4.75 inches high and weighs 110 pounds. It's valued at more than $3 million and also features a 24-karat gold sculpture of late IMS owner Tony Hulman. It resides at Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum. Since 1988, race winners have received a 14-inch “Baby Borg” to keep.

Here is how 2023 winner Josef Newgarden’s face was added to the trophy this year.

Which drivers have won more than one Indy 500?

Driver

Wins

Years

Helio Castroneves

4

2001, 2002, 2009, 2021

A.J. Foyt

4

1961, 1964, 1967, 1977

Rick Mears

4

1979, 1984, 1988, 1991

Al Unser Sr.

4

1970, 1971, 1978, 1987

Dario Franchitti

3

2007, 2010, 2012

Bobby Unser

3

1968, 1975, 1981

Johnny Rutherford

3

1974, 1976, 1980

Mauri Rose

3

1941, 1947, 1948

Wilbur Shaw

3

1937, 1939, 1940

Louis Meyer

3

1928, 1933, 1936

Tommy Milton

2

1921, 1923

Bill Vukovich

2

1953, 1954

Rodger Ward

2

1959, 1962

Gordon Johncock

2

1973, 1982

Emerson Fittipaldi

2

1989, 1993

Al Unser Jr.

2

1992, 1994

Arie Luyendyk

2

1990, 1997

Dan Wheldon

2

2005, 2011

Juan Pablo Montoya

2

2000, 2015

Takuma Sato

2

2017, 2020

What are the closest finishes in history?

Year

Winner

Runner-up

Margin of victory

1992

Al Unser Jr.

Scott Goodyear

0.043 seconds

2014

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Helio Castroneves

0.06 seconds

2006

Sam Hornish Jr.

Marco Andretti

0.0635 seconds

2015

Juan Pablo Montoya

Will Power

0.1046 seconds

1982

Gordon Johncock

Rick Mears

0.16 seconds

NBC SPORTS’ TOP 10 INDY 500s

Last year with the help of a blue-ribbon panel, NBC Sports ranked the top 10 Indy 500s. Here were the results:

No. 10: A.J. Foyt becomes a three-time winner in 1967 as Parnelli Jones’ dominant Granatelli turbine car breaks
No. 9: Sam Hornish Jr. beats Marco Andretti in 2006 on the race’s first last-lap pass
No. 8: Al Unser Jr. edges Scott Goodyear in 1992 for closest finish in the race’s history
No. 7: Rick Mears becomes a four-time winner of the race with a thrilling pass in 1991
No. 6: Louis Meyer becomes the first three-time winner and starts milk tradition
No. 5: Dan Wheldon wins second Indy 500 after J.R. Hildebrand crashes on last lap
No. 4: A.J. Foyt becomes the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500
No. 3: Helio Castroneves “reopens America” with his fourth Indy 500 victory
No. 2: Gordon Johncock holds off Rick Mears in 1982 thriller
No. 1: Jim Rathmann outduels Rodger Ward in 1960 epic

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