The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, often shortened to Indianapolis 500 or Indy 500, and historically known simply as "The 500," is an American automobile race, held annually over the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The event lends its name to the IndyCar class of formula, or open-wheel, race cars that have competed in it.
Opened in 1909 as a 2.5-mile oval track after investment and leadership by founders Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler, it is the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 permanent seats, and the property encompasses 1,025 acres in northwest Indianapolis, including the track, Administration Building, Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort and Inn and various parking areas.
The event, billed as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing", is one of the oldest and richest motorsport events, and one of the three most important motor racing events in existence, with one of the largest attendances, and radio and television audiences, of any single-day sporting event worldwide. While the official attendance is not disclosed by Speedway management, news media estimate attendance in excess of 270,000.
No other singular sporting event in the world has a legacy like the Indianapolis 500. No other event has shaped and defined a city and state and their people like the Indianapolis 500.
The 500 Festival, a not-for-profit volunteer organization, was created in 1957 to organize civic events celebrating the greatest race in the world. Over the past 49 years, the 500 Festival has grown to become one of the largest festivals in the nation.
The mission of the 500 Festival is to produce events and programs that celebrate the success of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Indiana and their guests. These events and programs, produced largely by volunteers, enhance the image of our city and state by showcasing our cultural, educational, and social benefits to the world.
Last year, nearly 425,000 Hoosiers and visitors participated in festival activities throughout the month of May. Whether they were athletes running the Mini, fourth grade students participating in the Education Program, families enjoying the state's largest festival for kids or spectators being dazzled by one of the nation's premier parades, they were there, celebrating the legacy.
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