10 fast facts about the Indianapolis 500

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Bonus fact: The average speed of the winner has more than doubled since it started. | Photo by @aaron.creates

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re officially less than a week away from Race Day.

To start your engines + get you fueled up for the 500, we’re sharing 10 fast facts that make this the greatest spectacle in racing.

  1. The tradition of the winner chugging milk after the race all started in 1933 when driver Louis Meyer requested it. His mother always used to tell him that there’s nothing better to drink on a hot day — so he was just taking mom’s advice.
  2. Four drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 four times — A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Rick Mears, and Helio Castroneves.
  3. Nine women have competed in the race — Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, and Katherine Legge.
  4. Willy T. Ribbs qualified for the 76th Indianapolis 500 on May 19th, 1991 becoming the first Black driver to ever participate in the prestigious motor race sport.
  5. The distance of one lap around the oval is 2.5 miles — and just as the name implies, the full race is 500 miles.
  6. The fastest lap ever turned during the month of May at the track was 237.498 mph by Arie Luyendyk during qualifying on May 12, 1996.
  7. Only five drivers have ever won back-to-back events, and no one has been able to do it three times in a row.
  8. The tradition of kissing the bricks was started by NASCAR champion Dale Jarrett after his Brickyard 400 victory in 1996.
  9. The youngest winner of the Indianapolis 500 was 22-year-old Troy Ruttman when he won the 36th running on May 30, 1952.
  10. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway spans 253 acres + includes a golf course. Churchill Downs, Yankees Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Colosseum, and Vatican City can all fit inside the property.
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