As much of an American tradition as apple pie, the world’s most famous and prestigious auto race revs into high gear this Memorial Day weekend. The weather in late May for the running of the Indianapolis 500 can be quite a challenge for fans and drivers alike.
“The Brickyard” was originally constructed as a test facility for the Indianapolis’ burgeoning automobile industry in 1909. About a year later, 3.2 million bricks were used to pave the 2.5-mile racetrack — later re-paved with asphalt. The speedway would grow over the subsequent decades and is now the world’s largest sports venue, seating about 400,000 people.
Race car drivers in the Indianapolis 500 will breeze around the oval track 200 times to compete in the 500 mile race that averages about 3 hours. It always takes place Memorial Day weekend and as one can imagine, the race has seen its fair share of late-May weather extremes from deadly heat to soaking rain since it first began in 1911.
Here’s a look at past Indy 500 racing weather extremes:
- The hottest race day? 92 degrees in 1937. In 1953, the unofficial temperature of the track reached 100 degrees. Race car driver Carl Scarborough died from heat exhaustion shortly after his 12th place finish in this race.
- The coldest race days? Low temperature of 37 degrees in 1947. The coldest high temperature during race day was 58 degrees in 1992.
- The wettest? 3.80 inches in 2004
- Shortest race due to rain? 102 laps or 255 miles completed in 1976. Johnny Rutherford won.
- The highest winds? 18 mph in 1995
What’s the typical weather in Indianapolis for race day?
- Low temperature 56.9 degrees
- High temperature 77.4 degrees
- Precipitation: 0.15 inch
- Average wind speed: 8.9 mph
So, how does this year’s weather look for the big race? Partly cloudy skies are expected with mild temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s. There will be a slight chance of a passing shower during the race, possibly causing a small delay in the action.
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