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    The Indy 500 – the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”

    500 miles and 200 laps, all for a bottle of milk
    31 March, 2022

    At Blend Group, we’re taking a look at a selection of the most iconic and historic international sporting events to see why they’ve built up such an impassioned following over the years. This week we’re in Speedway, an enclave of Indiana’s state capital, Indianapolis.

    Since 1911 Speedway has hosted the Indianapolis 500, more commonly referred to as the Indy 500. Billed as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the contest is 500 miles of adrenaline-fuelled, intense excitement that forms one part of the worldwide Triple Crown of Motorsport.

    The other two races that make up the Triple Crown are the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix and the gruelling 24-hour endurance race held in Le Mans. The result is a trio of races that are regarded as three of the most renowned motorsport events in the world.

    Unlike in most sports that have one, winning the motorsport Triple Crown is a notoriously difficult task. So much so that only one person, the UK’s Graham Hill, has ever actually managed it. Not only do all three races require vastly different approaches and skills, but the Indy 500 is often held on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix, meaning many F1 drivers forego the opportunity to win in Indiana. In recent years, Spain’s Fernando Alonso has searched for victory in the Indy 500, attempting to become only the second racer to complete the Triple Crown. He’s one of only two active drivers who currently has a victory in two of the three legs to his name, meaning a win in the Indy 500 would propel him to Triple Crown legend status, along with Hill.

    The fact that the Indy 500 is the only race of the three to happen outside of Europe goes some way to explain why it attracts such a following, in the USA especially. Never officially disclosed by Speedway management, the actual race attendance is always unknown, however, with a permanent seating capacity of over 250,000 and space for infield patrons, it’s understood that a monumental figure of around 300,000 people usually view the event live on-site.

    With drivers now able to reach over 220 miles per hour, immense levels of concentration are required over the 200 laps. The race is consequently seen as one of sport’s most notoriously dangerous events and has led to the death of over 40 drivers since its inception.

    The event is steeped in tradition and various recognisable customs have emerged over the years, none more so than the winning driver being presented a bottle of victory milk on the podium. The ritual dates back to 1936 when the winning driver supposedly requested a bottle on the advice of his mother. Since then, it’s become a permanent fixture of the event, to the extent that when the 1993 winning driver instead chose to raise a vessel of orange juice on the podium, he was booed at the next race.

    With its quirky traditions, massive spectatorship and pulsating action, the Indy 500 is one of the world’s iconic sporting events. It takes place this May and if you’d like to enquire into experiencing all that is on offer in Indianapolis, or indeed at either of the other two Triple Crown events, please get in touch here. We’d be delighted to hear from you and can also assist you with any luxury travel or transport needs you may have.

    Blend Group
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