How Well Do You Know the Indianapolis 500?


By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: Agence de presse Meurisse

About This Quiz

Do you look forward to the Indy 500 winner pouring out a cold one at the end of the race? 

Considered by many to be one of the most important automotive races, this annual event is a huge deal. Drivers and fans from around the world show up to celebrate this endurance race, which has plenty of fanfare surrounding the competition. There are also plenty of traditions steeped in the event, some that might seem strange to those who are uninitiated. 

While tickets can be hard to come by, it's even more difficult to camp out at the track, as those are some of the most coveted passes for the race. In fact, they often sell out the day that they're available to order, so if you're lucky enough to pitch your tent or bring a camper for a weekend of partying and racing, consider yourself truly blessed. The track still has plenty of seating, but it fills up as well, so you should always plan ahead if you want to attend. Of course, the Indy 500 is televised not only in the United States, but quite a few other countries around the globe, thanks to intense international interest in the results. 

So how much do you know about this race? Can you burn rubber on this quiz? Take it now and find out! 

Where is the Indy 500 held each year?

Located in Speedway, Indiana, this track hosts quite a few racing events, but all of them pale in comparison to this one.


What drink does the winner traditionally have at the end of the race?

It was Louis Meyer with his habit of drinking buttermilk to refresh himself after a race who touched off this tradition in 1936.


What do race organizers release before the start of each race?

The lore is that in 1947, Tony Hulman's mother suggested the practice, which now happens during the final notes of "Back Home Again in Indiana."


What was the first year of the Indy 500?

For that first meeting, Ray Harroun won behind the wheel of the Marmon "Wasp."


How many miles do racers travel to the finish?

Back when the Indy 500 was conceived, organizers wanted an event that would last from the middle of the morning into the late afternoon, so they selected a distance of 500 miles.


How long is one lap around the track?

The track has always been this distance and has even retained the same layout since 1909.


How many turns are included in the track?

There are what are called "short chute" straightaways between Turns 1 and 2, and Turns 3 and 4, plus longer straightaways on the front and back of the track.


How many rookies have won the race?

While countless rookies have participated, ten have won, the most recent being Alexander Rossi in 2016.


Who was the youngest driver to win the race?

Ruttman was just 22 years old when he took the checkered flag in 1952, and he remains the youngest victor.


How many cars have participated in the race most years?

The Contest Board of the American Automobile Association was the one that figured 33 was the maximum number of cars that could race on the track safely at once, and that's been largely followed.


What's the longest winning streak for a driver?

Five drivers have set this record, the earliest being Wilbur Shaw in 1939 and 1940, and the latest being Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.


Who else, other than the winning driver, gets some of the special milk?

There are two milk people, and the rookie or new person always hands the milk over to these two, while the more experienced one gives it to the driver.


How many Japanese nationals have won the race?

Takuma Sato was able to outdo Helio Castroneves in 2017 to become the first from his country to get the big win.


Who has racked up the most Indy 500 victories?

All three drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 four times, making the record a three-way tie, at least for now.


Who was the first woman to race in the Indy 500?

Janet Guthrie first competed in 1977, which was a big deal then. She also raced in 1978 and 1979.


What is the bank of the track's turns?

Just like the layout of the track, even the banking in the turns has been preserved to the exact specs of the original track.


What do winners do with most of the milk they're given?

Instead of trying to chug milk, which is a really bad idea, the winner mostly just dumps it on their head while celebrating, with some of it ending up in their mouth.


What do the winning drivers and crews kiss after the race?

There's a 3-foot wide strip of bricks from the original Speedway surface that they kiss, a tradition Dale Jarrett started back in 1996 at the Brickyard 400.


What nickname does the Indy 500 have?

As one of the three biggest automotive races in the entire world, this name isn't inaccurate by a long shot.


What song is always performed on race morning?

The song was originally called just "Indiana" when it was first published in 1917, and has been part of the race morning festivities since 1946.


What is the prize for winning the race?

This trophy has been around since 1936 and has become one of the most famous trophies in sports around the entire world.


What woman has snatched the best finish at the Indy 500?

In 2005 and 2011 Patrick actually led the race for a time, and in 2009 she had a podium finish in third place.


What's the only restriction on what kind of milk drivers can request if they win?

Drivers are polled each year before the race on what kind of milk they prefer, and quite a few are partial to whole milk.


Who won the 100th race?

Rossi was a rookie in 2016 when his fuel-saving strategy put him ahead of the other drivers who were in the lead, allowing him to coast across the finish line to victory.


What organization before the 2018 race asked organizers to not serve milk to the winning driver?

PETA publicly asked Indy 500 organizers to forgo the tradition, but that request was obviously ignored by all.


Who was the oldest driver to win the race?

Unser was 47 years old when he grabbed first place at the finish in 1987, a record that still stands today.


What is the fastest official lap a driver has done during May?

In 1996, Arie Lyendyk set this lap time record during qualifying.


What do fans like to do in the track's infield?

It's become a sanctioned tradition to camp in the track's infield, which has plenty of space to accommodate a fair number of fans.


When the Borg-Warner trophy filled up with names, what did race organizers do?

The cup filled up in 1986, which was when the base was added, but that also filled up in 2004, so an even larger base was filled, which should last until 2034.


What kind of container is the winner's milk kept in?

The milk is sourced locally and the bottles are engraved, so they're definitely something special.


Who was the first driver to break 150 mph in the race?

In 1965, Jim Clark hit 150.686 mph, breaking past a very important speed barrier for the Indy 500.


What kind of security measures are used for the milk delivery?

Milk is a huge deal for the race, so organizers don't take any chances, and starting in 2017, they transported it via an armored truck.


How many acres of land are in the track's infield?

The infield is quite spacious, something fans completely take advantage of. However, the parking lots cover 315 acres, trumping that.


What driver and his team were the first to rake in $1 million for winning the race?

Fittipaldi and his team, Patrick Racing, grabbed a winner's share of $1,001,604 in 1989.


How many women have competed in the Indy 500?

The most recent competitor was Pippa Mann, who has been in the race in 2011, and 2013 through 2016.


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