On Sunday, the 100th Indy 500 race took place at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in central Indiana. Just after noon Eastern time, more than 30 cars left the starting line for the 500-mile trek, which requires drivers to complete 200 laps on the speedway's 2.5-mile track. If the sold-out crowd and the live television broadcast weren't enough of a clue already, the Indy 500 memes and tweets that popped up online should have reminded you that IndyCar racing is kind of a big deal.
Known affectionately as the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indy 500 is held every year over Memorial Day Weekend. The race draws large crowds each year, but this year's event was the first to sell out. With a capacity of around 250,000 permanent seats, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the largest sports venue in the world — which means that Sunday's crowd could have been the largest sports crowd in history. In addition to the in-person crowd, the race was televised live in Indiana for the first time in more than 60 years.
A potentially record-breaking crowd, a long weekend, and one of the most important racing events in the country? The Indy 500 sounds like the absolute pits, right? That's what Sunday's fans surely wanted you to think.
Despite the spinouts, the crashes, and the potential for rain, the Indy 500 crowd lived up to the hype of the annual event. Not to mention, the event itself was expected to rev up the Indianapolis local economy nicely. If it were at all possible, the greatest spectacle in racing grew even more spectacular in its 100th year.