Billed as the “greatest spectacle in racing,” the Indianapolis 500 promises to be even more so this Memorial Day weekend, as the iconic American event celebrates its 100th anniversary. Centennial celebrations will take place citywide throughout the month leading up to race weekend, May 27 to 29. (Even the U.S. Postal Service is getting in on the action by issuing a special Indy 500 anniversary stamp as part of its 2011 commemorative stamp program!)
On Friday of race weekend, fans can get their favorite drivers’ autographs at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and brush up on the track’s history at the on-site Hall of Fame museum, which chronicles the race’s humble beginnings on a brick track in 1911 to the beloved pre-race traditions of Jim Nabors singing “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Then, on Saturday, the annual 500 Festival Parade in downtown will occur (top drivers like Danica Patrick and last year’s winner, Dario Franchitti, are expected) with plenty of concerts, galas and events during the evening. On race day itself, all eyes will turn to the world-famous Speedway, aka the Brickyard, where 300,000 cheering spectators will watch 33 drivers attempt 200 laps around the 2.5-mile oval, at speeds exceeding 220 mph. The vroom of the cars and the excitement of the day will stay with you long after the winner takes the checkered flag and enjoys that well-deserved gulp of milk.