Join The Roar on Monday morning from 1:30am AEST for all the drama and pageantry of the world’s greatest race, the Indianapolis 500.
They call it the greatest spectacle in racing and anyone who’s been there can tell you that the slogan is far from mere marketing hyperbole – it really is a spectacle like no other!
Where else other than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the last Sunday in May can you find the world’s largest single-day sporting event crowd – attendance tipped to comfortably exceed 300,000 people this year – watching one of the oldest and most storied events in sport.
Long before races at Le Mans, Bathurst, Monaco Daytona or Nürburgring were considered crown jewel events, the Indianapolis 500-mile race was writing motorsports history and turning drivers into legends.
On Sunday afternoon at the 2.5-mile superspeedway located at the corner of 16th and Georgetown in the town of Speedway, Indiana, another driver will join one of the most select groups in world sport.
Come home first across the yard of bricks under the twin checkers at Indianapolis and nothing that happens afterward matters: forever, you will be known as an Indianapolis 500 champion, joining the likes of Jim Clark, AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Al Unser Junior and Mario Andretti as victors.
Picking a winner is incredibly difficult. So much can happen in such a long race: accidents, pit stop mishaps, broken parts, just plain bad luck. Year after year, there’s always drama, and it’s always wholly compelling.
Indianapolis has a reputation as being completely unforgiving to those seeking a slice of motorsport immortality. She’s a cruel mistress, but surviving everything it can throw at you makes a victory even sweeter.
Here are some of the drivers to keep an eye on:
Will Power – can the Australian finally get to victory lane? He’s been close before, and a win would be one of this country’s greatest sporting feats.
Ed Carpenter: can the hometown owner/driver win from the pole?
Helio Castroneves – the Brazilian is aiming to join only AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser as four-time winners. Fast enough to get it done.
Marco Andretti – can the third-generation racer (Michael’s son and Mario’s grandson) win to break the fabled, long-running ‘Andretti Curse’ that’s been in effect since the 1969 race that Mario won.
Danica Patrick – the only female in the field is retiring after Sunday’s race. She’s starting near the front and has always been strong at Indianapolis. A win would be a seismic event.
Tony Kanaan – the Brazilian is a huge favourite with Brickyard crowds, and a win on Sunday, driving for A.J. Foyt, would be something to behold.
Josef Newgarden – imagine being both an IndyCar Series champion and an Indianapolis 500 winner before your twenty-eighth birthday? It’s a distinct possibility for the Tennessean on Sunday.
Sebastien Bourdais – the Frenchman missed last year’s race after a massive qualifying accident, and has bounced back to be the fastest Honda qualifier. A win would be one of Indy’s all-time great redemption stories.
There are plenty more drivers with incredible stories – I could write thousands of words. As for the field’s competitiveness? I have at least twelve cars who I think are legitimate chances to win.
The race delivers year on year. Whatever happens, there’s no chance we’ll not be entertained.