The 104th Indianapolis 500 will mark the first time the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will be held outside of May, and “When is the Indy 500?” is one of many questions about Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s signature race.
The green flag will drop on the 2020 Indy 500 at 2:30 p.m. ET (coverage begins at 1 p.m. on NBC) on Aug. 23, nearly three months after its originally scheduled date. All associated concerts and the 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis have been canceled, and the race will be run without fans for the first time in its history.
But one schedule element that remains unchanged: The two weeks leading up to the race still will feature the regular cadence of practices, two days of qualifying and Carb Day’s final practice.
Here are all the pertinent details to help answer the question of “When is the Indy 500?” and dozens more (all times are ET):
What are the Indy 500 race day start times?
–Cars pushed to the grid: 12:40-1:05 p.m. ET
–“Drivers, start your engines”: 2:23 p.m. ET
–Green flag: 2:30 p.m. ET
How can I watch the Indy 500 on TV?
The Indy 500 will be shown on NBC with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. and running through 6 p.m. It also will be available via streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.
Practice and qualifying for the Indy 500 will be shown on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (click here for more information on the IndyCar Pass). See the broadcast schedules below.
When is qualifying for the Indy 500?
The 33-car field for the Indy 500 will be set over Aug. 15-16.
Saturday, Aug. 15: Qualifying from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold; also from 3-5 p.m. on NBC and 5-6 p.m. on NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 16: Indy 500 pole and last row qualifying from 12:30-3 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold, 1-3 p.m. on NBC.
When is practice for the Indy 500?
There will be practice over six days leading up to the Indy 500.
Aug. 12: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (NBC Sports Gold)
Aug. 13: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (NBC Sports Gold)
Aug. 14: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (NBC Sports Gold)
Aug. 15: 8:30-9:30 a.m. before qualifying (NBC Sports Gold)
Aug. 16: 10- 11 a.m. (NBC Sports Gold) 4-6 p.m. (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)
Aug. 21: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. final practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)
When is Carb Day for the Indy 500?
Carb Day will be held Friday, Aug. 21 and will include final practice for the Indy 500. There will be no concert or team pit stop competition.
Why was the Indy 500 postponed?
Because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, restrictions on large gatherings necessitated moving the race from its original May 24 date.
How many fans will be allowed to attend the Indy 500?
There will be no fans allowed at the Indy 500, meaning the 230,000-seat grandstands will be empty for the first time in the race’s history.
Practice and qualifying also will be closed to the general public.
How many laps and how long is the Indy 500?
The race is 500 miles over 200 laps. Depending on the number of yellow flags, the Indy 500 typically takes about 3 hours to complete (give or take 30 minutes).
What is the size, length, width and banking of Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The track is 2.5 miles, which consists of:
- Front straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile
- Back straightaway: 5/8ths of a mile
- Turns: Each a quarter-mile.
- Short chutes: Each 1/8th of a mile
The track’s width is 50 feet on the straightaways and 60 feet in the turns. Its turns are banked at 9 degrees.
IMS sits on 963.4 acres (which includes the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, 315 acres of parking lots and a solar farm). There are 17 grandstands, 26 bridges and six tunnels. The infield is 253 acres.
Why do 33 cars start the Indy 500?
There were 40 cars that started the inaugural 500 Mile Race in 1911. Afterward, the American Automobile Association’s contest board decided the field was too big for the 2.5-mile track. A formula was created that decreed each car should be entitled to 400 feet when the field was spread around the track. Because 2.5 miles equals 13,200 feet, that allows for 33 cars at 400 feet apiece.
Why does the Indy 500 winner drink milk?
The tradition began in the 1930s when two-time winner Louis Meyer asked for a glass of buttermilk after his second victory (his mother taught him it would refresh him on hot days). After winning his third Indy 500 in 1936, a photo of Meyer drinking buttermilk led to a dairy industry executive requesting milk be available annually to the winner. Since 1956, winners have been given a $10,000 bonus from the Indiana Dairy Association for including milk in their postrace celebration.
What is the Indy 500 winner’s trophy?
The Borg-Warner Trophy has honored the winner since 1936. Each victor’s face is sculpted onto the trophy with a square that includes their name, winning year and average speed. Originally designed to hold 80 winners, two new bases were constructed to add more space (in 1986 and in 2004, which provides capacity through 2034).
The trophy is 5 feet, 4.75 inches high and weighs 110 pounds. It’s valued at more than $3 million and also features a 24-karat gold sculpture of late IMS owner Tony Hulman. It resides at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum. Since 1988, race winners have received a 14-inch “Baby Borg” to keep.
Which drivers have won more than one Indy 500?
|Rick Mears||4||1979, 1984, 1988, 1991|
|Al Unser Sr.||4||1970, 1971, 1978, 1987|
|A.J. Foyt||4||1961, 1964, 1967, 1977|
|Dario Franchitti||3||2007, 2010, 2012|
|Helio Castroneves||3||2001, 2002, 2009|
|Bobby Unser||3||1968, 1975, 1981|
|Johnny Rutherford||3||1974, 1976, 1980|
|Mauri Rose||3||1941, 1947, 1948|
|Wilbur Shaw||3||1937, 1939, 1940|
|Louis Meyer||3||1928, 1933, 1936|
|Tommy Milton||2||1921, 1923|
|Bill Vukovich||2||1953, 1954|
|Rodger Ward||2||1959, 1962|
|Gordon Johncock||2||1973, 1982|
|Emerson Fittipaldi||2||1989, 1993|
|Al Unser Jr.||2||1992, 1994|
|Arie Luyendyk||2||1990, 1997|
|Dan Wheldon||2||2005, 2011|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||2||2000, 2015|
What are the closest finishes in Indy 500 history?
|Year||Winner||Runner-up||Margin of victory|
|1992||Al Unser Jr.||Scott Goodyear||0.043 seconds|
|2014||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Helio Casroneves||0.06 seconds|
|2006||Sam Hornish Jr.||Marco Andretti||0.0635 seconds|
|2015||Juan Pablo Montoya||Will Power||0.1046 seconds|
|1982||Gordon Johncock||Rick Mears||0.16 seconds|