|Venue||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|First ICS race||1996|
|Distance||500 miles (805 km)|
|Previous names||International 500-Mile Sweepstakes (1911–1915)
International 300-Mile Sweepstakes (1916)
Liberty Sweepstakes (1919)
International 500-Mile Sweepstakes (1920–1941, 1946–1979)
|Most wins (driver)||A. J. Foyt (4)
Al Unser (4)
Rick Mears (4)
|Most wins (team)||Penske Racing (15)|
|Most wins (manufacturer)||Chassis: Dallara (10)
Engine: Offenhauser (27)
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, also known as the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Miles at Indianapolis, the Indy 500 or The 500, is held annually over the Memorial Day weekend, the last full weekend in May, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The event lends its name to the IndyCar class, or formula, of open-wheel race cars that have competed in it.
The event, billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, is considered one of the three most prestigious motorsports events in the world. The official attendance is not disclosed by Speedway management, but the permanent seating capacity is more than 257,000 people, and infield seating raises capacity to an approximate 400,000.
Race specifics 
Traditionally, the field consists of 33 starters, aligned in a starting grid of eleven rows of three cars apiece. The event is contested by "Indy cars", a formula of professional-level, single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel, purpose-built race cars. As of 2012, all entrants utilize 2.2 L V6 turbocharged engines, tuned to produce a range of 550–700 horsepower (410–520 kW).
The race is the most prestigious event of the IndyCar calendar, and one of the oldest and most important automobile races. It has been considered to be the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world. In addition, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself is regarded as the world's largest sporting facility in terms of capacity. The total purse exceeded $13 million in 2011, with over $2.5 million awarded to the winner, making it one of the richest cash prize funds in sports.
||This section may stray from the topic of the article. (March 2012)|
The early years 
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex was built in 1909 as a gravel-and-tar track and hosted a smattering of small events, including ones for motorcycles. The first long distance event, in "fearful conditions", was the 100-lap Prest-O-Lite Trophy in 1909, won by Bob Burman in a Buick. Breakup of the asphalt led to two fatal accidents in the first two long-distance events (a 250 mi (400 km) and 300 mi (480 km), which was shortened to 235 mi (378 km) after two severe wrecks). That these spectacles had attracted 15,000 paying customers (and crowds of up to 40,000) persuaded principal owner Carl G. Fisher to spend US$155,000 on repaving the track with 3.2 million bricks; he also added a 2 ft 9 in (0.84 m) concrete wall around the track's circumference. During the 1910 Memorial Day weekend, the first events on the newly paved circuit drew 60,000 spectators; Ray Harroun won the 200 mi (320 km) Wheeler-Schebler Trophy in a Marmon. The crowds grew progressively smaller for the rest of the season, however, so the track owners chose to focus on a single race. They considered a 24-hour contest, in the fashion of Le Mans, or a 1,000 mi (1,600 km). They instead chose a 500 mi (800 km) contest, and offered a spectacular $US25,000 (Fr1.25 million, about ₤5250) purse. The combination allowed the track to rapidly acquire a privileged status for automobile races. The first "500" was held at the Speedway on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911, run to a 600 cu in (9,800 cc) maximum engine size formula. It saw a field of 40 starters, with Harroun piloting a Marmon Model 32-based Wasp racer — outfitted with his invention, the rear view mirror. Harroun (with relief from Cyrus Patschke) was declared the winner, although Ralph Mulford protested the official result. 80,000 spectators were in attendance, and an annual tradition had been established. Many considered Harroun to be a hazard during the race, as he was the only driver in the race driving without a riding mechanic, who checked the oil pressure and let the driver know when traffic was coming.
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In 1912, the purse was raised to US$50,000. The field was limited to 33 (where it remains) and a riding mechanic was made mandatory. This second event was won by Joe Dawson in a National, after Ralph de Palma's Mercedes broke. Although the first race was won by an American driver at the wheel of an American car, European makers such as the Italian Fiat or French Peugeot companies soon developed their own vehicles to try to win the event, which they did from 1912 to 1919. The 1913 event saw a change to a 450 cu in (7,400 cc) maximum engine size.
After World War I, the native drivers and manufacturers regained their dominance of the race. Engineer Harry Miller set himself up as the most competitive of the post-war builders. His technical developments allowed him to be indirectly connected to a history of success that would last into the mid-1970s.
In 1946 American operatic tenor and car enthusiast James Melton started the tradition of singing "(Back Home Again in) Indiana" before the race when asked to do so on the spur of the moment by Speedway president Tony Hulman. This continued through the years, notably by actor and singer Jim Nabors since 1972.
Miller and Offenhauser 
Following the European trends, engine sizes were limited to 183 cu in (3,000 cc) during 1920-2, 122 cu in (2,000 cc) for 1923-5, and 91 cu in (1,490 cc) in 1926-9. The 1920 race was won by Gaston Chevrolet in a Frontenac, prepared by his brothers, powered by the first eight-cylinder engine to win the 500. For 1923, riding mechanics were no longer required. A supercharged car, ID, first won the race in 1924. In 1925, Pete DePaolo was the first to win at an average over 100 mph (160 km/h), with a speed of 101.13 mph (162.75 km/h).
In the early 1920s, Miller built his own 3.0 litre (183 in³) engine, inspired by the Peugeot Grand Prix engine which had been serviced in his shop by Fred Offenhauser in 1914, installing it in Jimmy Murphy's Duesenberg and allowing him to win the 1922 edition of the race. Miller then created his own automobiles, which shared the 'Miller' designation, which, in turn, were powered by supercharged versions of his 2.0 and 1.5 liter (122 and 91 in³) engine single-seaters, winning four more races for the engine up to 1929 (two of them, 1926 and 1928, in Miller chassis). The engines powered another seven winners until 1938 (two of them, 1930 and 1932, in Miller chassis), then ran at first with stock-type motors before later being adjusted to the international 3.0 liter formula.
In 1935, Miller's former employees, Fred Offenhauser and Leo Goosen, had already achieved their first win with the soon-to-become famous 4-cylinder Offenhauser or "Offy" engine. This motor was forever connected with the Brickyard's history with a to-date record total of 27 wins, in both naturally aspirated and supercharged form, and winning a likewise record-holding 18 consecutive years between 1947 and 1964.
European incursions 
Meanwhile, European manufacturers, gone from the Indianapolis 500 for nearly two decades, made a brief return just before World War II, with the competitive Maserati 8CM allowing Wilbur Shaw to become the first driver to win consecutively at Indianapolis in 1939-1940. With the 500 having been a part of the Formula One World Drivers' Championship between 1950 and 1960, Ferrari made a discreet appearance at the 1952 event with Alberto Ascari, but European entries were few and far between during those days.
In fact, it was not until the Indianapolis 500 was removed from the Formula One calendar that European entries made their return, with Australian Jack Brabham driving his slightly modified F1 Cooper in the 1961 race. In 1963, technical innovator Colin Chapman brought his Team Lotus to Indianapolis for the first time, attracted by the large monetary prizes, far bigger than the usual at a European event. Racing a mid-engined car, Scotsman Jim Clark was second in his first attempt in 1963, dominating in 1964 until suffering suspension failure on lap 47, and completely dominating the race in 1965, a victory which also interrupted the success of the Offy, and offering the 4.2 litre Ford V8 its first success at the race. The following year, 1966, saw another British win, this time Graham Hill in a Lola-Ford.
Offenhauser too would join forces with a European maker, McLaren, obtaining three wins for the chassis, one with the Penske team in 1972 with driver Mark Donohue, and two for the McLaren works team in 1974 and 1976 with Johnny Rutherford. This was also the last time the Offy would win a race, its competitiveness steadily decreasing until its final appearance in 1983. American drivers kept on filling the majority of entries at the Brickyard for the following years, but European technology had taken over. Starting in 1978, most chassis and engines were European, with the only American-based chassis to win during the CART era being the Wildcat and Galmer (which was actually built in Bicester, England) in 1982 and 1992 respectively. Ford and Chevrolet engines were built in the UK by Cosworth and Ilmor, respectively.
World Series 
After foreign cars became the norm, foreign drivers began competing in the Indianapolis 500 on a regular basis, choosing the United States as their primary base for their motor racing activities. Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, Italian Teo Fabi and Colombian Roberto Guerrero, were able to obtain good outings in the 80s, as did Dutchman Arie Luyendyk. However, it wasn't until 1993 that reigning Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell shocked the racing world by moving to the United States, winning the CART PPG IndyCar World Series Championship and only losing the 500 in his rookie year because of inexperience with green-flag restarts. Foreign-born drivers became a regular fixture of Indianapolis in the years to follow. Despite the increase in foreign drivers commonly being associated with the CART era, it should be noted that four of the first six Indianapolis 500 winners were non-US drivers.
Race name 
The race was originally advertised as the "International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race" from 1911 to 1916. However, from its inception, the race has been widely known as the Indianapolis 500 or, more simply as "the 500." In 1919, the race was referred to as the "Liberty Sweepstakes" following WWI. From 1920 to 1980, the race reverted officially back to the "International Sweepstakes" moniker, as printed on the tickets, with slight variations over the years.
Following WWII, the race was commonly recognized as "The 500", "The 500-Mile Race", "Indianapolis 500-Mile Race", "Indianapolis 500," or "Indy 500," and usually the ordinal (e.g. "50th") preceded it. Often the race was also advertised on the radio as the "Annual Memorial Day race," or similar variations.
For the 1981 race, the name "65th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race" was officially adopted, with all references as the "International Sweepstakes" dropped. Since 1981, the race has been advertised in this fashion, complete with a unique annual logo and the ordinal always included. Around that same time, in the wake of the 1979 race entry controversy, and the formation of CART, the race changed to an invitational event, rather than an Open, rendering the "sweepstakes" description invalid.
Since its inception, the race has eschewed any sort of naming rights or title sponsor, a move, though uncommon in the modern sports world, has been well received by fans. While the facility has numerous sponsor billboards around the grounds, including some controversial ads on the retaining walls in 2012, the Speedway has preferred to feature a contingent of several prominent official race sponsors rather than one primary title sponsor. In the 21st century on television, the race broadcast has been advertised with a title sponsor. Currently on ABC-TV, the race is referred to as the Indianapolis 500 Telecast Presented by GoDaddy.com, but this appears only on the U.S. telecasts, and mention of the sponsor is not visible for patrons at the track.
Centennial Era 
In 2009, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway began a three-year long "Centennial Era" to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the track (1909), and the 100th anniversary of the first Indy 500 (1911). As a gesture to the nostalgic Centennial Era celebration (2009–2011), tickets for the 2009 race donned the moniker "93rd 500 Mile International Sweepstakes." It is the first time since 1980 that the "Sweepstakes" title has been used. During the month of May 2009, the ordinal (93rd) was used very sparingly, and for the first time since 1981, was not identified on the annual logo. Instead, in most instances in print, television, and radio, the race was referred to as the "2009 Indianapolis 500." Since the race was not held during WWI and WWII, the advertised Centennial Era will occur during the 93rd/94th/95th runnings. To avoid confusion between the 100th anniversary, and the actual number of times the race has been run, references to the ordinal during the Centennial Era are being curtailed.
Female drivers 
Female participation of any sort at Indianapolis was discouraged and essentially banned throughout the first several decades of competition. As such, female reporters were not even allowed in the pit area until 1971. There have been nine female drivers to qualify, starting with Janet Guthrie in 1977.
Sarah Fisher has competed eight times, the most of any female. Danica Patrick led 19 laps in the 2005 race and 10 laps in the 2011 race, the only times a female has led laps during the race. Her third place finish in 2009 is the best finish for a woman.
Race sanctioning 
AAA and USAC 
From 1911 to 1955, the race was organized under the auspices of the AAA Contest Board. Following the 1955 Le Mans disaster, AAA dissolved the Contest Board to concentrate on its membership program aimed at the general motoring public. Speedway owner Tony Hulman founded USAC in 1956, which took over sanctioning of the race and the sport of Indy car racing.
From 1950 to 1960, the Indianapolis 500 also counted toward the FIA's World Championship of Drivers (now synonymous with Formula One), although few drivers participated in the other races of that series.
Control issues of monetary prizes and regulation amendments caused conflict in the 1970s. Soon after the death of Tony Hulman in 1977, and the loss of several key USAC officials in a 1978 plane crash, several key team owners banded together and formed CART in late 1978 to sanction the sport of Indy car racing.
The Indy 500 itself, however, remained under the sanctioning control of USAC. It became the lone top-level race the body still sanctioned, as it ultimately dropped all other Indy car races (as well as their stock car division) to concentrate on sprints and midgets. For the next three years, the race was not officially recognized on the CART calendar, but the CART teams and drivers comprised the field. By 1983, an agreement was made for the USAC-sanctioned Indy 500 to be reflected on the CART calendar, and CART points were awarded towards the championship.
Despite the CART/USAC divide, from 1983 to 1995 the race was run in relative harmony. CART and USAC occasionally quarreled over relatively minor technical regulations, but utilized the same machines and the CART-based teams and driver comprised the bulk of the Indy 500 entries each year.
Indy Racing League / INDYCAR 
In 1994, Speedway owner Tony George announced plans for a new series, to be called the Indy Racing League. The Indy 500 would serve as its centerpiece. Opinions varied on his motivations, with his supporters sharing his disapproval of the race's lack of status within CART, the increasing number of foreign drivers (as American drivers were gravitating towards NASCAR), and the decreasing number of ovals in the season series. Detractors accused George of throwing his weight around and using the race as leverage to gain complete control of the sport of open wheel racing.
In 1995 and in response to a change in schedule by the CART series that put several races in direct conflict with Indy Racing League events, George announced that 25 of the 33 starting positions at the 1996 Indy 500 would be reserved for the top 25 cars in IRL points standings (similar in practice to NASCAR's Top 35 rule introduced years later). The move effectively left only eight starting positions open to the CART-regulars that chose not to participate in the IRL races. CART's reaction was to refuse to compromise on the schedule conflicts, skip the IRL races required to accumulate the qualifying points, boycott the race, and stage a competing event, the U.S. 500, on the same day. Veteran Buddy Lazier won a competitive but crash-filled 1996 Indy 500. Two CART teams, Walker Racing and Galles Racing, competed in the Indianapolis 500 to fulfill sponsor obligations and were welcomed without incident. The U.S. 500 was marred by a massive opening-lap pileup. The competing U.S. 500 failed to establish itself as a major event, and was cancelled after only one running.
For 1997, new rules for less expensive cars and "production based" engines were put into place. The move made it such that the IRL and CART utilized different and incompatible equipment. No CART-based teams would enter the Indy 500 for the next three years.
In 2000, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, still a CART-mainstay, made the decision to cross lines and compete at Indianapolis with drivers Jimmy Vasser and Juan Pablo Montoya. On race day, Montoya dominated the event, leading 167 of the 200 laps to victory. In 2001, Penske Racing returned, and won the race with driver Hélio Castroneves.
By 2003, Ganassi, Penske and Andretti Green all defected to the IRL permanently. CART went bankrupt later in the year, and its rights and infrastructure were purchased by remaining car owners, and it became the Champ Car World Series. The two series continued to operate separately through 2007. In early 2008, the two series were unified to create a single open wheel championship after a 12-year split being run under Indy Racing League/IMS control (now IZOD INDYCAR SERIES). In 2011, the sanctioning body was renamed INDYCAR. The 2012 race was the return of Turbocharged engines for the first time since 1996 with the use of the Dallara DW12 chassis and 2.2 L V-6 single turbo and twin turbocharged engines
NASCAR drivers in the 500 
In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Indy 500 and the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway were held on different days of the week. A handful of NASCAR regulars participated in both events in the same year, including Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Cale Yarborough, and Lee Roy Yarbrough. From 1974-1992, the two events were scheduled for the same day and same starting time, making participation in both impossible. A few stock car drivers during that time, namely Neil Bonnett in 1979, nevertheless still attempted to qualify at Indy, even if that meant skipping Charlotte altogether.
From 1994 to 2004, several NASCAR drivers were able to compete in both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in the same day. Since 1993, the Coca-Cola 600 has been scheduled in the evening the same day as the Indy 500. The effort has been known as "Double Duty."
At the conclusion of the Indy 500, drivers would catch a helicopter directly from the Speedway to the Indianapolis International Airport. From there they would fly to Concord Regional Airport, and ride a helicopter to the NASCAR race. John Andretti, Tony Stewart, and Robby Gordon, attempted the feat. In 2001, Tony Stewart became the only driver to complete the full race distance (1100 miles) in both races on the same day.
For 2005, the start of Indianapolis was pushed back to 1 p.m. EDT to improve television ratings. This significantly closed the window for a driver to be able to race both events in the same day. (The race's original starting time had been set at 11 a.m. EST - 12 noon EDT - because in 1911, race promoters estimated it would take six hours to complete the event, and they did not want the race to finish too close to suppertime. Nowadays the race is routinely completed in under three and one-half hours.)
Two drivers, Mario Andretti and A. J. Foyt, have won the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Both also won the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, America's premier endurance races. Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford once won one of the Daytona 500 qualifying races.
In 2010, Bruton Smith (owner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc.), offered $ 20,000,000 to any driver, IndyCar or NASCAR, who can win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day starting in 2011 - a feat that has never been done before. For 2011, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway moved the start time of the Indy 500 back to 12 noon EDT, which re-opened the window for travel. However, no drivers stepped forward to attempt the double duty.
Technical regulations 
Technical specifications for the Indianapolis 500 are currently specified by IndyCar. Rules are the same as every other IndyCar race except for special low-drag adjustable "Speedway" wings that are only used for the Indy 500. In the past, especially during the years when USAC sanctioned the race but CART was the dominant sanctioning body, rules between the race and the sanctioning body differed at times, resulting in chassis and engines being legal for Indy, yet not being legal for other events that season. The most famous manifestation of that disparity was the Ilmor-built Mercedes-Benz 500I engine fielded by Roger Penske in 1994.
Teams may enter up to two machines under a given car number - the "primary" car and a "backup" car. The backup car is identified by the letter "T". For example the two cars for the #2 team would be numbered #2 and #2T. Both cars may be practiced during the month, or even simultaneously. It is not uncommon for teams to prefer their backup car, if it is deemed faster, or for other strategic reasons. Additionally, as the month wears on, a "T car" may be split off into its own entry, and re-assigned a new number, or be sold to another team.
All cars must pass a rigorous technical inspection before receiving a sticker signifying that the car is eligible to practice. Various criteria includes minimum weight, dimensions, and approved parts, particularly safety equipment. Prior to and following qualification attempts, cars must pass another inspection. The first inspection is focused on safety aspects while the second is largely to detect deviations from the performance guidelines set forth by the league.
Qualifying procedure 
For more information, see Indianapolis 500 pole-sitters
Throughout the years the race has used a number of qualifying procedures. The current four-lap (ten-mile) qualifying distance was first introduced in 1920, and has been used every year since 1939.
Drivers line up by speed rank in the order of the day they qualified. For several decades, four days of time trials were scheduled: the Saturday & Sunday two weeks before the race, and the Saturday & Sunday one week before the race. From 1998—2000 and from 2010—present, two days of qualifying, the Saturday and Sunday one week before the race, are scheduled for qualifications. The fastest qualifier on the first day of time trials (nicknamed "Pole day") wins the highly coveted pole position.
Drivers who qualify on the second day of time trials (nicknamed "Bump day") line up behind the first-day qualifiers - even if their speeds are faster than those from the first day. Once the field is filled to 33, the slowest car, regardless of the day it qualified, is "on the bubble." If another car qualifies faster, he/she will bump the slowest driver out of the field.
Since 2010, the qualifications have been held over two days, and include a special "shootout" session for the pole position.
- On Pole day, positions 1-24 are open for qualifying. At the end of the day the top nine drivers return to the track for a 90-minute "shootout" competition to re-qualify for the top nine spots - including the pole position.
- On Bump day, positions 25-33 are filled. Once the field is filled to 33 cars, bumping commences. The slowest car in the field, regardless of the day it qualified, is "on the bubble."
On each qualifying day, the session will begin at Noon local time. Each car will in a predetermined random order make their first qualifying attempt. (Teams have the option of passing on this first attempt and making their first attempt later in the day, however track conditions will get progressively worse throughout the day, meaning teams are better off making their first attempt as early as possible in the day.) Teams will then have until 4:00 PM local time on Pole Day and 6:00 PM local time on Bump Day/During the Fast 9 Shootout to make up to two additional attempts, but if they choose to do so they forfeit their previous time. (Cars need only take the track by 4:00 PM/6:00 PM for their run.)
For each attempt, cars get one out-lap followed by one warm-up lap. At that time, a member of the team (usually the team owner) must wave a green flag, signaling an attempt, or else the car will be waived off. The attempt can be waived off during any of the four laps by the team, driver, or IndyCar. (The series will waive off the run if it is obvious the run will not be fast enough to qualify and it is getting late in the day.) If an attempt is waived off after the run starts, the attempt counts towards the 3-attempt limit & the previous time is still forfeited.
Many people promote and share information about the Indianapolis 500 and its memorabilia collecting. The National Indy 500 Collectors Club is an independent active organization that has been dedicated to support such activities. The organization was established January 1, 1985 in Indianapolis by its founder John Blazier and includes an experienced membership available for discussion and advice on Indy 500 memorabilia trading and Indy 500 questions in general.
The longest-running Indy racing memorabilia show is the National Auto Racing Memorabilia Show.
The Indianapolis 500 has been the subject of several films, and has experienced countless references in television, movies, and other media.
Louis Meyer requested a glass of buttermilk after winning his second Indy 500 race in 1933. After winning his third title in 1936, he requested another glass but instead received a bottle. He was captured by a photographer in the act of swigging from the bottle while holding up three fingers to signify the third win. A local dairy company executive recognized the marketing opportunity in the image and, being unaware Meyer was drinking buttermilk, offered a bottle of milk to the winners of future races. Milk has been presented each year since then apart from 1947 to 1955. Modern drivers are offered a choice of whole, 2%, and skim.
At the 1993 Indianapolis 500, winner Emerson Fittipaldi, who owned and operated an orange grove, notoriously drank orange juice instead of milk following the win. He eventually relented and also drank milk later in the post-race ceremonies.
The race has been broadcast live on the radio in its entirety by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network since 1953.
The Hulmans were somewhat resistant to allow television coverage of the 500. It was televised live from 1949 to 1950 on WFBM-TV (now WRTV). During parts of the 1960s and '70s the race was broadcast live on closed-circuit TV for viewing in theaters and sports venues. From 1965 to 1985, ABC broadcast the race via tape delay. Since 1986, ABC has televised the race live in its entirety. However, at the request of the Speedway, Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV blacks out the live broadcast and airs it on tape delay in prime time to encourage local race attendance. In 2007, the race was first broadcast in HD.
See also 
- Indianapolis 500 firsts
- Indianapolis 500 records
- Indianapolis 500 traditions
- Indianapolis 500 year by year
- List of Indianapolis 500 broadcasters
- List of Indianapolis 500 deaths
- List of Indianapolis 500 lap leaders
- List of Indianapolis 500 pace cars
- List of Indianapolis 500 pole-sitters
- List of Indianapolis 500 Rookies of the Year
- List of Indianapolis 500 winners
- List of Indianapolis 500 winning starting positions
- Triple Crown of Motorsport
- List of stadiums with 100,000 plus capacity
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Further reading 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Indianapolis 500|
- Indianapolis 500 Official website
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway Official website
- Indy Racing League Official website
- Images from the Ralph J. Satterlee Indianapolis 500 Photographs Collection, Ball State University Digital Media Repository
- Indianapolis 500 fan photograph pool
- NPR Story About the Indianapolis 500
RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300
IndyCar Series races
ABC Supply Company A.J. Foyt 225