Image by Indycar
Image by Indycar
The Indy 500 is billed as the greatest spectacle in racing – the Superbowl of motorsport if you will – and when it comes to pageantry, it’s hard to argue against that statement.
Open-wheel cars racing at speeds in excess of 350 km/h is pretty darn spectacular, but then the American organisers turn the entire month of May into an event worthy of pilgrimage. Here’s why you should 100% tune into the race late on Sunday evening, 18h30 South African time. And yes, it’s okay if you give the yawn-fest Monaco GP a skip this weekend.
The Americans know how to create great spectacle. Why host a race when you can create supplementary events around the race. Earlier in the month there was the Indy Grand Prix around the Indianapolis road course, which acts as a warmup to the festivities. Then there’s Indy qualifying, which takes places over two days and is as exciting as the race itself, as drivers reach the top speeds of their cars with fresh tyres and low fuel.
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The top qualifier this year and the man who will start on pole is Alex Palou, who set the fastest ever pole time in the history of the sport to lead the field on Sunday. As you’ll see, his opening lap speed from his four-lap run was 378 km/h, which is insanely fast.
The Indy 500 is so great because it’s been around a long time, 107 years, since the race first race in 1911, with gaps only for the two World Wars. The first 24-hours of Le Mans only took place in 1923, the Monaco Grand Prix only took place in 1929. In many ways it was the original motor race and that matters.
There’s a ridiculous preconception by some that racing has become almost too safe in the modern era, but the Indy 500 – with its insane speeds well beyond 350 km/h – reminds you that racing at this oval is a life-or-death endeavor. More than 60 people have died at the Speedway since 1909, the first year of its opening. It still represents the last true battle between man, technology and mortality, and you sense that as they drivers fly around the track.
With anything so storied, the Indy legend is full of iconic personalities who became superheros in their own right, along with the amazing stories that flourish with them. AJ, Parnelli, Mears, Andretti, Kanaan, Castroneves, the list goes on, and the weekend is packed with remembrances of all of them. It’s like the Baseball Hall of Fame but for motorsport.
Modern-day gladiators going wheel to wheel at insane speed around the 4 km oval, risks at every left turn, this is the biggest draw to the racing. Mental fortitude and mechanical components stretched to their limits and don’t forget the pit crews tasked with servicing the cars in a matter of seconds.
Be sure to watch the Indy 500 on Supersport this Sunday, 28 May. Coverage of the greatest spectacle starts at 18h30 on channel 215.