Travel

The Indy 500: Ladies and Gentlemen. Start your engines!

I am not a petrolhead. I don’t drive. I have no real interest in cars. If asked to describe a car, colour is the only characteristic I can generally recall. And yet one of the best weekends I’ve ever had was in Indianapolis for the Indy 500 – pretty much car central.

The Indy 500 (the race takes place in Indianapolis and covers 500 miles) is known as the ‘Greatest Spectacle In Racing’ and it truly is. The annual event, first held in 1909, is the world’s biggest spectator sporting event in terms of attendance. Close to half a million people fill the stands and the surrounding fields. The whole city is caught up in Indy 500 fever and the carnival atmosphere has to be felt to be believed. How can you not love somewhere that celebrates ‘Carb Day’ (actually short for Carburetion nevermind – the last practice session for the drivers)

Indy 500 Parade through downtown Indianapolis the day before the race

Indy 500 Parade through downtown Indianapolis the day before the race

People fill the fields as far as the eye can see

People fill the fields as far as the eye can see

It is the only professional sport that I can think of where females and males compete on the same field at the same time. I’ve been lucky enough to see Pippa Mann’s debut, the first British female driver to take part and Danica Patrica, the most successful female driver in the history of the race.

Pippa Mann, first British female to drive in the Indy 500

Pippa Mann, first British female to drive in the Indy 500 – I had got her in the sweepstakes earlier!

Danica Patrick - the most successful female driver

Danica Patrick – the most successful female driver and something of a pinup

This is the actual race track about 30 minutes before the race!

This is the actual race track about 30 minutes before the race!

Indianapolis native and petrolhead, David Letterman

Indianapolis native and petrolhead, David Letterman

Ashley Judd with her Indy 500 winning husband, Dario Franchitti - you'll have to take my word!

Ashley Judd with her Indy 500 winning husband, Dario Franchitti – you’ll have to take my word!

Have you been to the Indy 500? What did you think?

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