Indianapolis 500: What You Need to Know

More than a quarter of a million fans descend on Indiana to watch the car race each Memorial Day weekend

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty

Memorial Day weekend isn’t just about barbecues and beaches.

The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, and as more than 250,000 fans prepare to hit the stands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Time has put together a handy video guide to what’s been dubbed the “greatest spectacle in racing.” (Watch it, above.)

Here are five fast facts.

1. The first race took place in 1911.
It was won by Ray Harroun, who was the only one of the 40 racers to compete without a riding mechanic, thanks to his handy use of the first ever rearview mirror. He won $14,000 (the equivalent of $340,000 today) – a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.5 million the winner will collect on Sunday.

2. The winner’s face will be memorialized on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
The 5-foot, 110-lb. trophy was introduced in 1936 and features a miniature likeness of each winner’s face in a multi-tier checkerboard pattern.

3. The winner will be offered a glass of milk to toast his win on the podium.
He will have a choice of whole milk, 2 percent or skim. The tradition started in 1933 when winner Louis Meyer asked for a cold bottle of buttermilk to quench his thirst.

4. IndyCar is not NASCAR.
Contact between cars is strictly forbidden, and IndyCars are open wheel with no roof and weigh almost half as much as a NASCAR vehicle.

5. The Indianapolis 500 should be on your to-do list.
The Indy 500 beat out the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby as the world’s best bucket-list sports event in a recent USA Today poll.

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